Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective ba·nal \bə-ˈnal, ba-, -ˈnäl; bā-ˈnal; ˈbā-nəl\

Simple Definition of banal

  • : boring or ordinary : not interesting

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of banal

  1. :  lacking originality, freshness, or novelty :  trite


play \bə-ˈna-ˌlīz, ba-, -ˈnä-; bā-ˈna-; ˈbā-nəl-ˌīz\ transitive verb


play \bə-ˈnal-lē, ba-, -ˈnäl-; bā-ˈnal-; ˈbā-nəl-(l)ē\ adverb

Examples of banal in a sentence

  1. The more banal, the more commonplace, the more predictable, the triter, the staler, the dumber, the better. —Don DeLillo, Mao II, 1991

  2. … it seemed to me that computers have been used in ways that are salutary, in ways that are dangerous, banal and cruel, and in ways that seem harmless if a little silly. —Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine, 1981

  3. The instructor's script is banal, relying heavily on images of waves on a beach or clouds in the sky. —Maxine Kumin, “Wintering Over,” 1979, in In Deep, 1987

  4. He made some banal remarks about the weather.

  5. The writing was banal but the story was good.

Origin and Etymology of banal

French, from Middle French, of compulsory feudal service, possessed in common, commonplace, from ban

First Known Use: 1825

Synonym Discussion of banal

insipid, vapid, flat, jejune, banal, inane mean devoid of qualities that make for spirit and character. insipid implies a lack of sufficient taste or savor to please or interest <an insipid romance with platitudes on every page>. vapid suggests a lack of liveliness, force, or spirit <an exciting story given a vapid treatment>. flat applies to things that have lost their sparkle or zest <although well-regarded in its day, the novel now seems flat>. jejune suggests a lack of rewarding or satisfying substance <a jejune and gassy speech>. banal stresses the complete absence of freshness, novelty, or immediacy <a banal tale of unrequited love>. inane implies a lack of any significant or convincing quality <an inane interpretation of the play>.

Medical Dictionary

adjective ba·nal \bə-ˈnal, ba-, -ˈnȧl; bā-ˈnal; ˈbān-əl\

Medical Definition of banal

  1. :  of a common or ordinary kind <banal skin organisms> <a banal inflammation>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up banal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or pull abruptly

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • bride-of-dracula-in-cat-form-surrounded-by-candles-and-somewhat-bewilderingly-orange-sacks-instead-of-surely-much-cheaper-and-easier-to-find-actual-pumpkins
  • Which is a synonym of phlegmatic?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.