AskDefine | Define trident

Dictionary Definition

trident n : a spear with three prongs

User Contributed Dictionary



From Latin, "three tooth".


  1. A three-pronged spear somewhat resembling a pitchfork.
    Poseidon's trident




fr-noun m
  1. Trident

Extensive Definition

A trident (), also called a leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was formerly also a military weapon. Tridents feature widely in mythical, historical and modern culture.


"Trident" is from French trident, from Latin tridens or tridentis: tri "three" and dentes "teeth".


Tridents for fishing usually have barbed tines which trap the speared fish firmly. In the southern USA, gigging is used for catching bullfrogs, flounder, and sometimes carp.

Military use

As a weapon, the trident was prized for its long reach and ability to trap other long-weapons between prongs to disarm their wielder. Tridents were also famously used by the retiarii, Roman gladiators who used a net to wrap their adversary and a trident to kill him.

Symbolic use

Parallel to its fishing origins, the trident is associated with Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology, the Roman god Neptune, and Shiva, a Hindu god. In Greek myth, Poseidon used his trident to create water sources in Greece and the horse (by striking a camel). Poseidon, as well as being god of the sea, was also known as the "Earth Shaker" when he struck the earth in anger he caused mighty earthquakes and he used his trident to stir up tidal waves, tsunamis and sea storms. In Roman myth, Neptune also used a trident to create new bodies of water and cause earthquakes. A good example can be seen in Gian Bernini's Neptune and Triton.
A trident has also references as:

Popular culture






  • In the popular RPG Dungeons and Dragons, the trident is available as a weapon. It is largely similar to the spear, albeit more effective against charging opponents. However, it is lighter and deals less damage on a critical hit.
Video games
Pinball Machine
  • In March of 1979, Stern Electronics released "Trident" a nautical themed game based on the mythological take on the three pointed spear. A "seagod" like character is depicted in the artwork fighting an octopus like monster of the deep. Stern produced 4019 of these machines.



trident in Asturian: Traenta
trident in Bulgarian: Тризъбец
trident in German: Dreizack
trident in Spanish: Tridente
trident in Esperanto: Tridento
trident in French: Trident
trident in Korean: 삼지창
trident in Upper Sorbian: Mórska bažička
trident in Italian: Tridente
trident in Lithuanian: Kovos trišakis
trident in Dutch: Drietand (voorwerp)
trident in Japanese: トリアイナ
trident in Polish: Trójząb
trident in Portuguese: Tridente
trident in Russian: Трезубец
trident in Slovenian: Trizob
trident in Serbian: Трозубац
trident in Finnish: Atrain
trident in Swedish: Treudd (vapen)
trident in Ukrainian: Тризуб
trident in Chinese: 三叉戟

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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