Where does the word “trivial” come from and What does trivia mean?

Some of the customs of ancient Greece and Rome were undoubtedly very much like those of today.

Among them was the custom of meeting and loafing at street corners in idle conversation.

In fact, there was additional justification in olden times, because there was undoubtedly at the junction of the road a statue or other representation of either the god Hermes or the goddess Hecate, which one might worship.

Such statues were exceedingly commonplace; so much so that Hecate was known as Trioditis, or, in Latin, Trivia, signifying “one who is worshiped where three roads meet.”

The latter term was from the Latin prefix tri-, three, and via, way. Statues of Hermes were even more numerous. It is not likely, however, that the statues of the gods were more than excuse.

Nevertheless, through such meetings and gossip at the street corners, trivia came to signify things of little importance, things so commonplace as to be found or heard where three roads meet.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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