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   » Wiki: Trivia
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Trivia refers to bits of , often of little importance.


Latin meaning and etymology
The trivia (singular ) are three lower Artes Liberales, i.e. , , and . These were the topics of , foundational to the of higher education, and hence the material of basic education and an important building block for all undergraduates.

The ancient 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."

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.

The Latin adjective triviālis in Classical Latin besides its literal meaning could have the meaning "appropriate to the street corner, commonplace, vulgar." In , it could also simply mean "triple." In , it came to refer to the lower division of the Artes Liberales, namely , , and . (The other four Liberal Arts were the , namely , , , and , which were more challenging.) Hence, trivial in this sense would have meant "of interest only to an undergraduate."


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

  • A 15th century English translation of mentions the arte trivialle, referring to the trivium of the Liberal Arts.trans. Higden (Rolls Series, dating to 1432-50) VI. 333 to whom sche redde the arte trivialle (translating trivium legeret), cited after .
  • the same work also calls a triuialle distinccion a threefold division. This is due to an application of the term by , and was never common either in Latin or English.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 .
  • the meaning "trite, commonplace, unimportant, slight" occurs from the late 16th century, notably in the works of . Henry VI, Part 3 (1593) We haue but triuiall argument.

Trivia was used as a title by Logan Pearsall Smith in 1902, 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."


Modern usage
Trivialities, bits of information of little consequence was the title of a popular book by British 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." Trivia , Etmyology Online

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

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. The author, Ed Goodgold (né Edwin F. Goodgold; born 1944), 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. The board game was released in 1982 and was a craze in the U.S. for several years thereafter.


Organized competition
The largest current trivia contest is held in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point's radio station . This is a college station with 11,500 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. The 48th WWSP contest was held on April 21–23, 2017.

The two longest continuous trivia contests in the world are the Great Midwest Trivia Contest at Lawrence University and the , 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 . 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 been a regional qualifier for T.R.A.S.H. (Testing Recall About Strange Happenings) utilizing a round robin competition format. Trivia Bowl Alumni be holding a 50th Reunion April 5-7, 2018

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


Quiz bowl
Another quiz competition is the tournaments found in high schools and universities in the U.S., as well as in elementary, middle, and junior high schools; the Canadian equivalent is competition geared toward Reach for the Top, among high schools, although Canadian universities and a few high schools are beginning to participate in U.S. quiz bowl leagues. The National Academic Quiz Tournaments is a national organization, founded in 1996, which supplies questions to high school and college-level tournaments across North America.


See also


External links

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