Trivia  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
idée reçue, Trivia (disambiguation), Trivial objections

Trivia are insignificant trifles of little importance, especially items of unimportant information

Etymology

The etymology of the word trivia seems to start with Latin tri- = "three", and via = "way", "road", thus trivium, which has been treated in three ways:

  • Where three roads meet, especially as a place of public resort. 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 used in English for what in Latin would have called "triviālia", for anything information or concern which is treated as everyday and unimportant.
  • The Three Ways (first known used in English in a work from 1432–1450). This work mentions the "arte trivialle", referring to the trivium, which was the three Artes Liberales (Liberal Arts) that were taught first in medieval universities, namely grammar, rhetoric, and logic. (The other four Liberal Arts were the quadrivium, namely arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, which were more challenging.) Hence, trivial in this sense would have meant "of interest only to an undergraduate".
  • The Roman courier network Cursus publicus which was set up by Emperor Augustus. Messengers traveled the Roman Empire taking messages from one province to the next. At crossroads notice boards would display gossip or news from Rome....hence 'trivia'.

The word trivia was popularized in its current meaning in the 1960s by Columbia University students Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky, who created the earliest inter-collegiate quiz bowls that tested culturally significant yet ultimately unimportant facts, which they dubbed "trivia contests". The first book treating trivia of this universal sort was Trivia (Dell, 1966) by Goodgold and Carlinsky, which achieved a ranking on the New York Times best seller list; the book was an extension of the pair's Columbia contests and was followed by other Goodgold and Carlinsky trivia titles. In their second book, More Trivial Trivia, the authors criticized practitioners who were "indiscriminate enough to confuse the flower of Trivia with the weed of minutiae"; Trivia, they wrote, "is concerned with tugging at heartstrings," while minutiae deals with such unevocative questions as "Which state is the largest consumer of Jell-O?" But over the years the word has come to refer to obscure and arcane bits of dry knowledge as well as nostalgic remembrances of pop culture.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Trivia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools