April 17, 2012
trite (adjective)
\TRYTE\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: so common that the newness or cleverness has worn off
How do you use it?
The story is good, but he uses too many trite and boring clichés like "busy as a bee."
Are you a word wiz?

"Trite" comes to us directly from the Latin word "tritus," which is the past participle of the verb "terere." What do you think "terere" means?

The newness and originality has worn off something that is "trite," so it makes sense that "trite" would come from a word that means "to wear away." Latin "terere" means "to rub" or "to wear away by rubbing," and that idea is extended in the derived form "tritus," the source of English "trite." English speakers first started using "trite" in the mid-1500s to refer to something so overused that its "shine" or newness is worn away. Back then "trite" was occasionally used literally (one early writer spoke of his "garments trite"), but the original figurative meaning took off and is the one we use today.
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