The term itself tri-via (three ways) comes from the Latin term that described the foundation of Liberal Arts, the trivium: grammar, rhetoric and logic. Obviously, there isn’t really a connection between the term’s modern usage and its origins and there are some alternate theories as well. It wasn’t until the 1600s, most notably in Shakespeare’s texts, that trivial was used to mean something that was useless or trite.
In 1965, two Columbia students appropriated the word as an ironic twist on its Latin roots to describe contests where students answered questions about various topics. The trivia quiz or quiz bowls became popular, spawning books and more competitions. It also revived the defunct quiz show industry which had crumbled in the 50’s when it was discovered that contestants were given the questions and sometime the answers in advance. Jeopardy has been one of the longest running quiz shows, and a newer example, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, one of the most internationally popular quiz show franchises ever created attest to this legacy.
The story of the popular board game Trivial Pursuit goes a little like this: Chris Haney and Scott Abbott created the game when they couldn’t play Scrabble because they were missing pieces. The game was officially created in 1982 and became hugely popular within a couple of years. With various distributors such as Parker Brothers and Hasbro, a rough estimate of sales to date would probably be over 100 million.
Now you can get your trivia fix on your computer, from TV or participating in pub quizzes. And there are a myriad of trivia board games to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:
Mindstein requires you to answer five successive questions in a row. Each answer has a different letter and you must unscramble the letters to come up with the secret word. This is a great one if you are looking for an extra challenge with your trivia.
Pass the Popcorn is a great pick for fans of movie trivia. The trivia cards involve naming movie titles based on story, cast, characters or famous quotes.
In addition to answering questions, Eye Know incorporates images that have to be identified in order to receive the question. Place wagers based on your knowledge of topics and increase your chances for a bigger score.