ba·​nau·​sic bə-ˈnȯ-sik How to pronounce banausic (audio)
: relating to or concerned with earning a living
used pejoratively
contempt for the banausic occupationsT. S. Eliot
also : utilitarian, practical
such mundane and banausic considerations as comfort and durability G. B. Boyer

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Banausic Has Greek Roots

The ancient Greeks held intellectual pursuits in the highest esteem, and they considered ideal a leisurely life of contemplation. A large population of slaves enabled many Greek citizens to adopt that preferred lifestyle. Those who had others to do the heavy lifting for them tended to regard professional labor with contempt. Their prejudice against the need to toil to earn a living is reflected in the Greek adjective banausikos (the root of banausic), which not only means "of an artisan" (from the word for "artisan," banausos) but "nonintellectual" as well.

Word History


borrowed from Greek banausikós "of an artisan, pedestrian, in bad taste" from bánausos "artisan, craftsman," as an adjective "of an artisan, vulgar" (of uncertain origin) + -ikos -ic entry 1

Note: According to the Etymologicum Magnum, a Byzantine etymological lexicon compiled about 1150 from much earlier sources, bánausos is dissimilated from *baúnausos, supposedly a compound of baûnos "furnace, forge" and the verb aúō, aúein "to light a fire, set on fire"; this explanation seems fanciful. R. Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009) regards the word as of pre-Greek substratal origin. The negative connotations of a word for "artisan" are indicative of Greeks'—or at least Athenians'—low regard for occupations such as blacksmith or potter.

First Known Use

1845, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of banausic was in 1845


Dictionary Entries Near banausic

Cite this Entry

“Banausic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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