• A spear-like weapon or object with three tips, historically made for fishing
  • The emblem of Poseidon, Greek god of the sea
  • The weapon used by gladiators called "retiarius" who fought with a net
  • A symbolic weapon associated with the antagonist of the Christian god


Trident is typically used to describe the weapon that characterizes Poseidon as the god of the sea. Poseidon was an ancient Greek god who, in addition to presiding over the oceans, was a member of the original triumvirate of gods that headed the family, along with Zeus and Hades. Tridents were originally used by fishermen to catch fish. The three prongs on the end made it easier to spear fish because of its heavier weight and larger area of impact. Trident is also used metaphorically to describe objects and geographical areas that reproduce the shape of the three-pronged pike.

Since its emergence in Greek mythology, the trident has been adopted as a symbol by cultures all around the world. For instance, the trident is featured in the Ukrainian coat of arms. The trident signified the domination of the seas across Roman, Greek, and Hindu mythologies. Shiva, one of the Hindu triumvirates, warded off malevolent beings with his trident (trishula in Sanskrit) which was meant to represent his significance as a destroyer. This weapon is also related to the Christian concept of the devil.

Example: Poseidon raised his trident and the sea flung itself towards the ship.

Example: The fisherman threw the trident into the water with a splash and speared a passing fish.


The roots of trident lie in Greek's "trĂ­aina." This word influenced Latin's "tridentis," which comes from the prefix "tri-" for "three" and the root "dentes," meaning "teeth." Accordingly, the three points of a trident were referred to as if they were teeth. French, finally, adapted this prior form into "trident," which English directly appropriated as such.

In Literature

From Homer's The Iliad:

Neptune himself, trident in hand, surveyed the work and threw into the sea all the foundations of beams and stones which the Achaeans had laid with so much toil; he made all level by the mighty stream of the Hellespont, and then when he had swept the wall away he spread a great beach of sand over the place where it had been.

In the classic tale of the Iliad, Homer prominently notes that Neptune, another name for Poseidon, is wielding his trident, which is not only his primary symbol but also his trusted tool for stirring up the seas, as he does here.


  • You would be three times as successful if you tried to dent someone's car with a trident.
  • For Poseidon, his trident was tried and true.
  • Poseidon's trident churns the seas; Makes Odysseus' voyage ill at ease.


In an homage to its association with Poseidon and, with him, the sea itself, Trident is the name of a class of ballistic nuclear missile used by the US and UK that deploys from a submarine. Similarly, the UK's Vanguard-class submarines are often colloquially referred to as Tridents due to the fact that they are armed with Trident missiles.


Poseidon, Greek, Weapon, Fishing

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of trident. Did you use trident in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.