"Trivia" (literally three roads) refers to a fork in the road. Etymologically, the freshman courses, where you choose or are chosen to further your education, or leave the institution. Although those first courses were easy to teach, they were crucial & fundamental to every students life aspirations. It is common to mistake trivia as meaningless or unimportant, but they are often the unappreciated or subtle but fundamental keys to deeper understanding of related issues. ("God is in the details.")
This begs the question of whether the word was thought plural because it refers to three roads (an intersection), or multiple items of information. "Trivia takes up too much of the day." seems a bad example, unless you are used to hearing the plural used as though it were singular. 'Common misuse' should not be accepted as standard without acknowledging the transition & the problems such as "trivium'. Alternatively, careful thinkers might recognize a homonym defined as a category of issues, rather than the plural of individual items. Then again, one might argue for the right word, "triviata".
Wikidity 20:04, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
- Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.
Never heard trivia are, either here in the UK or Ireland, or when I lived in Australia. It even sound jarring.--Dmol 22:00, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
- (after edit conflict) I have heard "tivia are", but it sounds somewhat odd, and I would always use "trivia is" myself. Thryduulf 22:04, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
- My ear agrees with your ears. MW Usage said in 1994 that their evidence had the forms roughly equal. I can still find plenty of cites from this millennium for "trivia are", though it is a little tedious so pick the relevant cases from the other collocations to get comparable counts or the two forms. I would base the usage note on current authorities plus our consensus. DCDuring TALK 23:27, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
- The OED is happy with both singular and plural. I think I would be more likely to say "these trivia are" than "this trivia is" (here in the UK), unless I was referring to the game, but it would depend on the context. I'm glad to see that the "rft" tag has been removed after three years! Dbfirs 20:56, 20 June 2011 (UTC)