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

Other Words from prosaic

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

Prosaic Has Literary Origins

In the past, 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 source prosa, meaing "prose." Poetry is viewed, however, 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The park’s finest hours were in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, when its lush tropical foliage and prosaic rosebushes invited downtown workers to lunch al fresco. Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 Nevertheless, the latest TV ad from the House Majority PAC, an outside group closely connected to Nancy Pelosi, suggests that Democrats will make a more prosaic, economic argument. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 11 Apr. 2022 Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the National Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has a more prosaic approach. Karl Rove, WSJ, 23 Mar. 2022 The other problem in the Caribbean is more prosaic. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 6 Apr. 2022 People can pose or quickly fix their hair, but more often than not users are compelled to share whatever is going on in their lives at that given moment, no matter how prosaic or unglamorous. Carly Wanna,, 29 Mar. 2022 In thinking about the growth impact of something seemingly prosaic as coal, what has the airplane or automobile meant for productivity, or the internet, or the supercomputer that sits in nearly every American pocket? John Tamny, Forbes, 13 Mar. 2022 Bloom has a talent for mixing the prosaic and profound, the slapstick and the serious, which makes the book, despite its depressing subject matter, a pleasure to read. Ann Levin, USA TODAY, 5 Mar. 2022 That more prosaic work of building broad, inclusive coalitions is what produced social change from the 1960s through the 1980s. Steven Tian, Fortune, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About prosaic

Time Traveler for prosaic

Time Traveler

The first known use of prosaic was in 1692

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About prosaic

Dictionary Entries Near prosaic




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prosaic

Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prosaic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on prosaic

Nglish: Translation of prosaic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prosaic for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!