adjective pro·sa·ic \prō-ˈzā-ik\

Definition of prosaic

  1. 1a :  characteristic of prose as distinguished from poetry :  factualb :  dull, unimaginative prosaic advice

  2. 2 :  everyday, ordinary heroic characters wasted in prosaic lives — Kirkus Reviews


play \-ˈzā-ə-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

prosaic was our Word of the Day on 06/09/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of prosaic in a sentence

  1. For the most part, the descriptions of the books listed in the “Catalog,” though informative, are relentlessly prosaic, even hackneyed. —Mordecai Richler, New York Times Book Review, 8 Oct. 1989

  2. In addition to the prosaic essentials of life—wheat, rice, and salt—the Portuguese found exotic stores of pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and other spices. —Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983

  3. There is, of course, an ordinary medicine, an everyday medicine, humdrum, prosaic, a medicine for stubbed toes, quinsies, bunions, and boils … —Oliver Sacks, Awakenings, 1973

  4. … where did he get his money? He had to eat and drink, buy apparatus and chemicals, even pay the poor rate. Where did he get the common coin to meet such unavoidable if prosaic obligations? —Flann O'Brien, The Dalkey Archive, 1964

  5. He has a prosaic writing style.

  6. the prosaic life of a hardworking farmer

  7. She believes the noises are made by ghosts, but I think there's a more prosaic explanation.

Did You Know?

In the 1600s, any text that was not poetic was prosaic. Back then, "prosaic" carried no negative connotations; it simply indicated that a written work was made up of prose. That sense clearly owes much to the meaning of the word's Latin ancestor prosa, which meant "prose." By the end of the 17th century, though, poetry had come to be viewed as the more beautiful, imaginative, and emotional type of writing, and prose was relegated to the status of mundane and plain-Jane. As a result, English speakers started using "prosaic" to refer to anything considered matter-of-fact or ordinary, and they gradually transformed it into a synonym for "colorless," "drab," "lifeless," and "lackluster."

Origin and Etymology of prosaic

Late Latin prosaicus, from Latin prosa prose

First Known Use: 1692

PROSAIC Defined for English Language Learners


adjective pro·sa·ic \prō-ˈzā-ik\

Definition of prosaic for English Language Learners

  • : dull or ordinary

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capable of being understood in two ways

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