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Something trivial is like a small detail: it's unimportant, it's not serious, or it doesn't matter much.

So, to trivialize something is to make it seem unimportant or not serious--in other words, to treat it like it doesn't matter much.

TRIV ee uh lize

Part of speech:
Transitive verb.
(Like "eat," "try," and "want," all transitive verbs do something to an object.
You eat a banana, try a game, and want a new phone.
Likewise, you trivialize something.)

Other forms:
trivialized, trivializing, trivialization, trivializer(s)

How to use it:
This word has a negative tone. Trivializing something is never good--and, if you're willing to be idealistic about people and their intentions, you might agree that no one ever trivializes something on purpose.

Usually we talk about people who trivialize serious things or important things, acting like they're not significant.

Here are some things that people often trivialize:
  • needs and concerns;
  • pains, feelings, and experiences;
  • causes, effects, forces, and powers;
  • risks, benefits, and possibilities;
  • qualities, aspects, and accomplishments;
  • problems and dilemmas;
  • events, incidents, conflicts;
  • crimes, injustices, and atrocities;
  • similarities, differences, and relationships;
  • cultures and histories;
  • and situations and complexities.

You might say people trivialize something by doing something ("they trivialized the culture by turning it into a Halloween costume") or with something ("they trivialized our concerns with a light laugh") or as something else ("they trivialized the crime as the silly prank of a young man").

Though it's often people who trivialize things, we can also say that things trivialize other things: decisions and actions can trivialize things, and so can policies, statements, shows, movies, books, advertisements, propaganda, etc.

Schools take bullying seriously; no longer do they allow that behavior to be trivialized as just part of the childhood experience.

The textbook was written for kids, so inevitably it trivializes much of the violence between American settlers and Native Americans.

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