ba·​nal bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio)
-ˈnäl How to pronounce banal (audio)
ˈbā-nᵊl How to pronounce banal (audio)
: lacking originality, freshness, or novelty : trite
bə-ˈna-ˌlīz How to pronounce banal (audio)
transitive verb
bə-ˈnal-lē How to pronounce banal (audio)

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How do you pronounce banal?

There are several pronunciations of banal, but the three most common are \BAY-nul\, \buh-NAHL\, and \buh-NAL\ (which rhymes with canal). The earliest pronunciation given in our dictionaries is the now-unused \BAN-ul\ (rhymes with “flannel); it is attested to in our dictionaries back to the 1800s, but has dropped out of use. \BAY-nul\ is the next oldest pronunciation. The more recent \buh-NAL\ and \buh-NAHL\ came about through French influence, since banal was borrowed into English from French, and those two pronunciations are closer to the French pronunciation of banal. All three pronunciations are acceptable in educated speech; \buh-NAL\ is currently the most common, followed by \BAY-nul\ and then \buh-NAHL. There is no reason to condemn any of them as incorrect.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of banal in a Sentence

The more banal, the more commonplace, the more predictable, the triter, the staler, the dumber, the better. Don DeLillo, Mao II, 1991
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 Deep1987
… 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
He made some banal remarks about the weather. The writing was banal but the story was good.
Recent Examples on the Web If there are missing patches in the bigger picture, however, the smaller one is filled in with curiosity and care, the film’s subtly permeating atmospherics constantly balancing the banal with the possibly divine. Guy Lodge, Variety, 7 Sep. 2023 And yet, the facts on the ground in the real-life cases were so chillingly banal. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Sep. 2023 For a moment at least, Ramaswamy had pulled the elemental trick of both a politician and a huckster: making a banal idea seem forgotten, and new. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, 17 Aug. 2023 Despite the relatively banal nature of Ryder’s crimes, she was completely vilified in the press, effectively reducing the actress to a bad punchline for late night television hosts. Colin Scanlon, Redbook, 8 May 2023 The series was primarily filled with banal but helpful observations, like the necessary planning for the Alcan Highway. David Reamer | Alaska History, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Aug. 2023 Indeed, hip-hop can also be banal and trite, much like rock music. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Aug. 2023 In this project in particular, the young visionary describes the process as taking the banal and the documentarian quality of the subject matter, and moving it into the space of fiction as well. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 19 July 2023 By extension, eating, which comes with the very banal dangers of loud chewing or getting sauce on your chin, might represent something that feels too intimate, too vulnerable, for a getting-to-know-you meeting. Lauren O’Neill, Vogue, 21 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'banal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French, "pertaining to a feudal lord's right to extract usage fees for mills, ovens, etc., within his jurisdiction, available for general use, ordinary, commonplace, trite," going back to Old French bannel "subject to a feudal lord's jurisdiction, of seigneurial authority," borrowed from Medieval Latin bannālis, banālis "ordered by a ban, invested with public authority," from bannus, bannum "order given by a public authority, authority, jurisdiction" (borrowed from Old Low Franconian *banna- "call to arms by a lord") + Latin -ālis -al entry 1 — more at ban entry 2

First Known Use

1825, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of banal was in 1825

Dictionary Entries Near banal

Cite this Entry

“Banal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ba·​nal bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio) ba- How to pronounce banal (audio) -ˈnȧl How to pronounce banal (audio)
: not original, fresh, or exciting : stale, commonplace
 also  bā-
 or  ba-
bə-ˈnal-lē How to pronounce banal (audio)

Medical Definition

: of a common or ordinary kind
banal skin organisms
a banal inflammation

More from Merriam-Webster on banal

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