Etymology lesson of the week

31Oct06

:: Trivia ::

Coming from the Latin, ‘tri-‘,meaning ‘three’ and ‘via’, meaning ‘road’ or ‘the way’.

 Trivium thus meant “the meeting place of three roads, especially as a place of public resort.” People actually met at that point and discussed interesting topics, such as a rhetoric would.

In the Roman empire, a trivium would often have a tavern (Latin: taberna). In Roman times, such a place was viewed as common and vulgar, in the sense that we express in the phrase the gutter, as in “His manners were formed in the gutter.” The Latin adjective triviālis, derived from trivium, thus meant “appropriate to the street corner, commonplace, vulgar.”

The first known usage of the word “trivial” in Modern English is from 1589; it was used with a sense identical to that of triviālis. Shortly after that trivial is recorded in the sense most familiar to us: “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.

Fun game out of all of this? Trivial Pursuit

|thanks wikipedia|

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