June 08, 2007


Trivia - Insignificant or inessential matters

There are several theories associated with the origin of the word. The strongest contender being :
In early Latin, tri =three, and via = road. Hence, Trivium meant "the meeting place of three roads, especially as a place of public resort." In the Roman empire, a trivium would often have a tavern and such a place was viewed as common and vulgar. Latin adjective triviālis, derived from trivium, thus meant "appropriate to the street corner, commonplace, vulgar."

The first known usage of the word "trivial" is from 1589; it was used with a sense identical to that of triviālis. Shortly after that trivial is recorded in the sense : "of little importance or significance." Gradually, the word trivia came to be applied for any information that is of fleeting importance and of general interest.

Trivia on Trivia :

1)The word was popularized in its current meaning (information of the kind useful almost exclusively for answering quiz questions) in the 1960s by two of Columbia University students, who created the earliest inter-collegiate quizzes that tested culturally important and unimportant facts, which they dubbed "trivia contests".

2) National Trivia Day is celebrated on January 4 in the United States. The origins of the holiday are unknown. Many observe the holiday by playing games of knowledge and/or by sending an email or making a phone call to impart a quick little-known fact to friends and family.

Sources: http://www.answers.com


suramya said...

trivia on trivia!!!!!!!! I like the sound of that,I love its journey from trivium to trivia.

Abhishek Rudresh said...

Just pondering the possible repercussions of analyzing "trivial": tri- three and vial- a small bottle (full of interesting possibilities :P).
Great post, this is one of those words I always wanted to look up but thought it too "trivial"!

Moi said...

Su : love the way words evolve over years to give us that right most word that comes handy when u need one. I mean, the more I think of it, the more I realize, there's no other word that can fill in for Trivia , if required.

Abhishek: interesting tangent!!! vial always reminds me of "vial of blood" that Ms. Jolie used to carry around her neck, the blood being that of her husband's of those days!!!

yogsma said...

This is most loved word...In fact we had our quiz club logo (reverse Y shaped) - based on this word.

Jas Bhambra said...

Great post. Like Suramya said, "trivia on Trivia".

Radha said...

There is a National Trivia Day in the US?? That country never ceases to amaze me !!

Moi said...

Yogsma : Based on the interactions b/w u and 666 over blogs about the heydays of quizzing in your lives, I had guessed that u two will know about it. :)

Jas : thank u, kind Jas:)

Radha: Nor me.....I have really never heard of the National Trivia day but its documented, so it may well be true. Since it's on Jan 4 when things stay closed by default, it being Christmas week ...i'm guessing the day goes unnoticed....