ba·​nal | \ bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio) , ba-, -ˈnäl; bā-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio) ; ˈbā-nᵊl How to pronounce banal (audio) \

Definition of banal

: lacking originality, freshness, or novelty : trite

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Other Words from banal

banalize \ bə-​ˈna-​ˌlīz How to pronounce banalize (audio) , ba-​ , -​ˈnä-​ ; bā-​ˈna-​ ; ˈbā-​nᵊl-​ˌīz \ transitive verb
banally \ bə-​ˈnal-​lē How to pronounce banally (audio) , ba-​ , -​ˈnäl-​ ; bā-​ˈnal-​ ; ˈbā-​nᵊl-​(l)ē \ adverb

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

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.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Look at almost any photograph, no matter how banal, and the recognition comes on like an involuntary shudder, a snakelike rustle in the undergrowth of your unconscious. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "It’s time we looked at Iran through the same lens as its best photographers," 15 Jan. 2020 Yet every word spoken, no matter how banal, seems to stretch your nerves closer to snapping. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "‘Is This a Room’ Review: Why’d She Blow the Whistle?," 24 Oct. 2019 But the fact that this movie, at turns charming, banal, and problematic, could become subversive simply by being screened tells you something about the disparate cultural moments in America and in France. Rachel Donadio, The Atlantic, "The Disparate Reactions to a New Woody Allen Film," 24 Sep. 2019 For the most part, however, these complaints are but banal talking points posted to Facebook, the site of our willing and constant exposure. John Kaag, WSJ, "‘How to Disappear’ Review: The Unseen Virtues," 22 Feb. 2019 The other, alone among us, can sing, and sometimes in the midst of some banal activity will thoughtlessly tear the top of the house off with a high C. Beauty is not compensatory for the lack of justice in this life. Christian Wiman, Harper's magazine, "The Cancer Chair," 20 Jan. 2020 The violence was both shocking and banal: This is what happens when an affinity for oddballs becomes an acceptance of lunatics and nihilists. John J. Miller, National Review, "Andy Warhola’s Religion," 19 Dec. 2019 The pictures are deliberately ordinary, even banal. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "What W. E. B. Du Bois Conveyed in His Captivating Infographics," 7 Nov. 2019 Social bots have played a role on Twitter since the site launched, to instantly post not only the latest news stories or banal advertisements but also deluges of conspiracy and propaganda. The Economist, "Digital disinformation is destroying society but we can fight back," 17 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'banal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of banal

1825, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for banal

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

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Time Traveler for banal

Time Traveler

The first known use of banal was in 1825

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Statistics for banal

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Banal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for banal


How to pronounce banal (audio) How to pronounce banal (audio) How to pronounce banal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of banal

: boring or ordinary : not interesting


ba·​nal | \ bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio) , ba- How to pronounce banal (audio) , -ˈnȧl; bā-ˈnal; ˈbān-ᵊl How to pronounce banal (audio) \

Medical Definition of banal

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on banal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for banal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with banal

Spanish Central: Translation of banal

Nglish: Translation of banal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of banal for Arabic Speakers

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