Saint Ignatius High School

Etymology Word of the Week

Back by popular demand, Director of Admissions, Pat O'Rourke '90 and self-proclaimed "word nerd" brings you his Etymology Word of the Week. Every other week, he presents an online Etymology lesson designed to dazzle.

As some of you know, in addition to working in the Admissions Office, I also teach Latin at Saint Ignatius and am something of a "word nerd."  Thus, each week, I’ll sneak a vocabulary word (sometimes derived from Latin, sometimes not) into the e-blast. Here, then, is this week’s edition of the Etymology Word of the Week.  

Trivial - "of very little importance or value; insignificant.”  From the Latin prefix tri meaning “three,” and the Latin noun via, viae meaning “street or road.”  Thus, the place where 3 streets meet (a crossroads, street corner, intersection, or other such place) signifies a very public, ordinary, “vulgar” locale - in the Romans’ minds no doubt, probably a place where only mundane (a.k.a. trivial) matters were discussed.  (All information is from, and/or

RELATED WORDS/PHRASES - just about any word with tri- as a prefix such as triangle, tripod, etc.; for via, words like viaduct, deviant (way off the road), obviate, impervious

SYNONYMS - trifling, pedestrian, inconsequential, ordinary, commonplace

SAMPLE SENTENCE - “Having a wide-ranging knowledge of trivial tidbits comes in handy when playing Jeopardy.”

GUESS THE APHORISM:  The early bird... (scroll for the answer)

Answer: ...catches the worm.