pro·​sa·​ic | \ prō-ˈzā-ik How to pronounce prosaic (audio) \

Definition of prosaic

1a : characteristic of prose as distinguished from poetry : factual
b : dull, unimaginative prosaic advice
2 : everyday, ordinary heroic characters wasted in prosaic livesKirkus Reviews

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Other Words from prosaic

prosaically \ prō-​ˈzā-​ə-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce prosaically (audio) \ adverb

Prosaic Has Literary Origins

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."

Examples of prosaic in a Sentence

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 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 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 … 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 He has a prosaic writing style. the prosaic life of a hardworking farmer She believes the noises are made by ghosts, but I think there's a more prosaic explanation.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Hopefully, Nvidia's move to support ARM in HPC will trickle down to support for more prosaic devices as well, meaning cheaper, more powerful, and friendlier devices in the consumer space. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Nvidia pushes ARM supercomputing," 17 June 2019 With a prosaic libretto by Richard Wesley and a production of limited means that relies on television and newspaper documentation flashed on movable screens, Davis has his own series of obstacles. San Diego Union-Tribune, "UCSD professor Anthony Davis’ opera ‘The Central Park Five’ goes where Netflix doesn’t dare," 17 June 2019 But on a more prosaic point of public policy, Louisiana is a less flattering outlier. Danny Heitman, WSJ, "Do You Have a License for That Bouquet?," 24 Aug. 2018 The biggest determinant of success may have to do with a much more prosaic factor: money. Tamar Haspel, Vox, "Lab-grown meat and the fight over what it can be called, explained," 31 Aug. 2018 Turkey & The Wolf On the surface, the restaurant is a sandwich bar with a menu offering prosaic options like ham and bologna. Paul Oswell, Condé Nast Traveler, "21 Best Restaurants in New Orleans," 28 Feb. 2018 But in these more prosaic times Works usually end more matter-of-factily. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Taxman in the Mirror: Judge Gets His Moment in Michael Jackson Case," 1 June 2018 In Aesop’s telling, the rural rodent has a secure life of prosaic peas while metropolitan mouse can dig into sumptuous cheese and honey — but only if a cat and dog won’t pounce (scary). New York Times, "At City Mouse in Chicago, It Starts With Cheese (of Course)," 31 Mar. 2018 Serious subjects should not be treated flippantly, of course, but the Almodovar brothers could have brought a little of their signature visual sparkle to this fairly prosaic package. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Silence of Others': Film Review | Berlin 2018," 21 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prosaic.' 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 prosaic

1692, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for prosaic

Late Latin prosaicus, from Latin prosa prose

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Statistics for prosaic

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for prosaic

The first known use of prosaic was in 1692

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English Language Learners Definition of prosaic

formal : dull or ordinary

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More from Merriam-Webster on prosaic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prosaic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prosaic

Spanish Central: Translation of prosaic

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Britannica English: Translation of prosaic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prosaic

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showing courage and determination

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