Trivia

Last updated

Trivia is information and data that are considered to be of little value. [1] It can be contrasted with general knowledge and common sense.

Contents

Latin meaning and etymology

The trivia (singular trivium ) are three lower Artes Liberales : grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These were the topics of basic education, foundational to the quadrivia of higher education, and hence the material of basic education and an important building block for all undergraduates.

The ancient Romans used the word triviae to describe where one road split or forked into two roads. Triviae was formed from tri (three) and viae (roads) – literally meaning "three roads", and in transferred use "a public place" and hence the meaning "commonplace." [2]

The pertaining adjective is triviālis. The adjective trivial was adopted in Early Modern English, while the noun trivium only appears in learned usage from the 19th century, in reference to the Artes Liberales and the plural trivia in the sense of "trivialities, trifles" only in the 20th century.[ citation needed ]

The Latin adjective triviālis in Classical Latin besides its literal meaning could have the meaning "appropriate to the street corner, commonplace, vulgar." In late Latin, it could also simply mean "triple." In medieval Latin, it came to refer to the lower division of the Artes Liberales , 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."[ citation needed ]

English usage

The adjective trivial introduced into English in the 15th to 16th century was influenced by all three meanings of the Latin adjective:

Trivia was used as a title by Logan Pearsall Smith in 1902, [6] followed by More Trivia and All Trivia in 1921 and 1933, respectively, collections of short "moral pieces" or aphorisms. Book II of the 1902 publication is headed with a quote from "Gay's Trivia, or New Art of Walking Streets of London.",

"Thou, Trivia, goddess, aid my song: Through spacious streets conduct thy bard along." [7]

Modern usage

Trivialities, bits of information of little consequence was the title of a popular book by British aphorist Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946), first published in 1902 but popularized in 1918 (with More Trivia following in 1921 and a collected edition including both in 1933). It consisted of short essays often tied to observation of small things and commonplace moments. Trivia is the plural of trivium, "a public place." The adjectival form of this, trivialis, was hence translated by Smith as "commonplace." [8]

In the 1918 version of his book Trivia, Smith wrote: [8]

I KNOW too much; I have stuffed too many of the facts of History and Science into my intellectuals. My eyes have grown dim over books; believing in geological periods, cave dwellers, Chinese Dynasties, and the fixed stars has prematurely aged me.

In the 1960s, nostalgic college students and others began to informally trade questions and answers about the popular culture of their youth. The first known documented labeling of this casual parlor game as "Trivia" was in a Columbia Daily Spectator column published on February 5, 1965. [9] The author, Ed Goodgold, then started the first organized "trivia contests" with the help of Dan Carlinsky. Ed and Dan wrote the book Trivia (Dell, 1966), 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.[ citation needed ] The board game Trivial Pursuit was released in 1982 and was a craze in the U.S. for several years thereafter. [8]

Organized competition

The largest current trivia contest [10] [11] is held in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point's college radio station WWSP 89.9 FM. This is a student-run community station with 30,000 [12] watts of power and about a 65-mile (105-kilometre) radius, and the contest serves as a fund raiser for the station. The contest is open to anyone, and it is played in April of each year spanning 54 hours over a weekend with eight questions each hour. There are usually 400 teams ranging from 1 to 150 players. The top ten teams are awarded trophies. As of 2022, the contest is in its 52nd year. The dates for Trivia 52: The Stacked Deck, are April 8-10, 2022. [13]

The two longest continuous trivia contests in the world are the Great Midwest Trivia Contest at Lawrence University and the Williams Trivia Contest, which both debuted in the spring of 1966. Lawrence hosts its contest annually. Unusually, Williams has a separate contest for each semester, and thus its 84th game took place in May 2008.

The University of Colorado Trivia Bowl was a mostly student contest featuring a single-elimination tournament based on the GE College Bowl. [14] Many of the best trivia players in America trace participation through this tournament including many Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? contestants. In recent years, the event has been conducted in a round robin competition format and operated as a regional qualifier for T.R.A.S.H. (Testing Recall About Strange Happenings).

Today, many bars and restaurants host weekly trivia nights in an effort to draw in more patrons, especially during weeknights.

See also

Related Research Articles

Liberal arts education Traditional academic program in Western higher education

Liberal arts education is the traditional academic program in Western higher education. Liberal arts takes the term art in the sense of a learned skill rather than specifically the fine arts. Liberal arts education can refer to studies in a liberal arts degree program or to a university education more generally. Such a course of study contrasts with those that are principally vocational, professional, or technical.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes concepts with opposing meanings within a word or phrase that creates an ostensible self-contradiction. An oxymoron can be used as a rhetorical device to illustrate a rhetorical point or to reveal a paradox. A more general meaning of "contradiction in terms" is recorded by the OED for 1902.

Quadrivium Liberal arts of astronomy, arithmetic, music and geometry

In liberal arts education, the quadrivium consists of the four subjects or arts taught after the trivium. The word is Latin, meaning 'four ways', and its use for the four subjects has been attributed to Boethius or Cassiodorus in the 6th century. Together, the trivium and the quadrivium comprised the seven liberal arts, as distinguished from the practical arts.

Roman calendar Calendar used by the Roman Kingdom and Roman Republic

The Roman calendar was the calendar used by the Roman kingdom and republic. The term often includes the Julian calendar established by the reforms of the dictator Julius Caesar and emperor Augustus in the late 1st century BC and sometimes includes any system dated by inclusive counting towards months' kalends, nones, and ides in the Roman manner. The term usually excludes the Alexandrian calendar of Roman Egypt, which continued the unique months of that land's former calendar; the Byzantine calendar of the later Roman Empire, which usually dated the Roman months in the simple count of the ancient Greek calendars; and the Gregorian calendar, which refined the Julian system to bring it into still closer alignment with the tropical year.

Trivium The first three liberal arts of classical Greek and Medieval scholastic education

The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts and comprises grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

<i>Pussy</i> Term with multiple meanings

Pussy is a used as a noun, an adjective, and—in rare instances—a verb in the English language. It has several meanings, as slang, as euphemism, and as vulgarity. The most common as a noun, it means "cat", as well as "coward or weakling". In slang usage, it can mean "the human vulva or vagina" and less commonly, as a form of synecdoche, meaning "sexual intercourse with a woman". Because of its multiple senses including both innocent and vulgar connotations, pussy is often the subject of double entendre.

Antiquarian Specialist or aficionado of antiquities or things of the past

An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient artifacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. The essence of antiquarianism is a focus on the empirical evidence of the past, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the motto adopted by the 18th-century antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts, not theory."

Wyrd Anglo-Saxon concept of personal fate or destiny

Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, whose meaning has drifted towards an adjectival use with a more general sense of “supernatural” or “uncanny”, or simply “unexpected”.

Zenzizenzizenzic Obsolete mathematical term representing the eighth power of a number

Zenzizenzizenzic is an obsolete form of mathematical notation representing the eighth power of a number, dating from a time when powers were written out in words rather than as superscript numbers. This term was suggested by Robert Recorde, a 16th-century Welsh physician, mathematician and writer of popular mathematics textbooks, in his 1557 work The Whetstone of Witte ; he wrote that it "doeth represent the square of squares squaredly".

The Cursor Mundi is an early 14th-century religious poem written in Middle English that presents an extensive retelling of the history of Christianity from the creation to the doomsday. The poem is long, composed of almost 30,000 lines, but shows considerable artistic skill. In spite of the immense mass of material with which it deals, it is well proportioned, and the narrative is lucid and easy.

John Trevisa

John Trevisa was a Cornish writer and translator.

The Dialogue on Translation between a Lord and a Clerk, or Dialogus inter dominum et clericum, was written by John Trevisa. Along with the dedicatory Epistle, it forms the introduction to his 1387 translation of the Polychronicon of Ranulf Higden, commissioned by Trevisa's patron, Lord Berkeley. Written in Middle English, it consists of a series of arguments made by the clerk on why books should not be translated from learned languages such as Latin, each one followed by a rebuttal from the lord. The clerk eventually agrees, and the exchange concludes with a prayer for guidance in the translation.

Rubric Word or section of text that is traditionally written or printed in red ink for emphasis

A rubric is a word or section of text that is traditionally written or printed in red ink for emphasis. The word derives from the Latin: rubrica, meaning red ochre or red chalk, and originates in Medieval illuminated manuscripts from the 13th century or earlier. In these, red letters were used to highlight initial capitals, section headings and names of religious significance, a practice known as rubrication, which was a separate stage in the production of a manuscript.

Oslo Cathedral School Upper secondary school in Norway

Schola Osloensis, known in Norwegian as Oslo Katedralskole and more commonly as "Katta", is a selective upper secondary school located in Oslo, Norway. The school offers the college preparatory Studiespesialisering of the Norwegian school system. Oslo Cathedral School is one of four schools in Norway that can trace its origins directly to the Middle Ages. It is generally regarded as one of Norway's most prestigious schools, which celebrated its 850th anniversary in 2003.

Terminology of the Low Countries Terminology

The Low Countries comprise the coastal Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta region in Western Europe, whose definition usually includes the modern countries of Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Both Belgium and the Netherlands derived their names from earlier names for the region, due to nether meaning "low" and Belgica being the Latinized name for all the Low Countries, a nomenclature that went obsolete after Belgium's secession in 1830.

Trivialism Logical theory

Trivialism is the logical theory that all statements are true and that all contradictions of the form "p and not p" are true. In accordance with this, a trivialist is a person who believes everything is true.

<i>Witch</i> (word)

The word witch derives from the Old English nouns wiċċa[ˈwit.t͡ʃɑ] and wiċċe[ˈwit.t͡ʃe]. The word's further origins in Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European are unclear.

The name Britain originates from the Common Brittonic term *Pritanī and is one of the oldest known names for Great Britain, an island off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The terms Briton and British, similarly derived, refer to its inhabitants and, to varying extents, the smaller islands in the vicinity. "British Isles" is the only ancient name for these islands to survive in general usage.

In etymology, back-formation is the process or result of creating a new word via inflection, typically by removing or substituting actual or supposed affixes from a lexical item, in a way that expands the number of lexemes associated with the corresponding root word. The resulting is called a back-formation, a term coined by James Murray in 1889.

References

  1. Knowles, Elizabeth, ed. (2006). The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Oxford University Press, UK. p. 175. ISBN   978-0-19-157856-4.
  2. Harper, Douglas. "trivial". Online Etymology Dictionary . Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  3. trans. Higden (Rolls Series, dating to 1432-50) VI. 333 to whom sche redde the arte trivialle (translating trivium legeret), cited after OED.
  4. trans. Higden (Rolls Series) VI. 333 Giraldus of Wales, which describede Topographie of Irlonde, Itinerary of Wales, and the Lyfe of Kinge Henry the Secunde, under a triuialle distinccion (translating sub triplici distinctione), cited after OED.
  5. Henry VI, Part 3 (1593) We haue but triuiall argument.
  6. Project Gutenberg etext. Gutenberg.org. 2005-07-01. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  7. Gay, John (1730). Trivia: Or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London. Internet Archive. London: Bernard Linton.
  8. 1 2 3 Trivia Archived 2015-12-26 at the Wayback Machine , Online Etymology Dictionary
  9. "Columbia Daily Spectator 5 February 1965". Columbia University Archives. Archived from the original on 18 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
  10. "Trivia World". Triviahalloffame.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  11. Jennings, Ken. Chapter 13: What is Tradition?. Brainiac. Archived from the original on 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  12. https://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/fmq?call=WWSP [ bare URL ]
  13. "90 FM prepares for return of world's largest trivia contest". 23 March 2022. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  14. "University of Colorado Heritage Center". Cualum.org. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2008-12-23.