Having noticed how much I love sharing my stash of useless information, I have decided to start a new blog specially dedicated to ‘educating’ the masses! So nice rite? hehehe.

For the first post, I thought it would be really meaningful to reveal to all the origin of trivia!

Everyone uses the word ‘trivia’ but who really knows how it came about?


Read on!

The word trivia is actually a back formation from trivial, a word which English borrowed from Latin in the early 15th century, but which didn’t take on its current meaning until the late 16th century.

English took it from trivialis the possessive form of the Latin trivium “crossroad” (literally “three roads”). It has often been suggested that, the meeting place of three roads being equivalent to today’s street corner, common folk would pass by having common (hence trivial) conversations.

The sense of “commonplace” evolved into “trifling” or “unimportant”, and that is where today’s sense of the word comes from. The noun trivia arose at the end of the 19th century. Although the “crossroad” theory has had wide currency it may not be the truth.

The earliest English use of trivial (1432) says nothing about crossroads or gossip. It is the adjectival form of an entirely different trivium… Now, the Greek word for “four” is tetra, so the claim about the meeting place of three roads was a little wide of the mark.

There was, however, something in Medieval English known as the quadrivium, a term taken from Latin and referring to the upper four liberal arts: Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, and Music. The lower three were the trivium: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. These were the “three ways” of knowledge.

By the way, the Indo-European root from which the tri- part of these words come is *trei- “three”, which gave most Indo-European languages words related to “three”. The -via portion is descended from the root *wegh- “to go, transport in a vehicle” the subject of last week’s Spotlight.

Woo hoo. So now you know!

Today’s trivia has been brought possible by: Take Our Word For It