adjective pro·sa·ic \ prō-ˈzā-ik \
|Updated on: 3 Aug 2018

Definition of prosaic

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


play \prō-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 RichlerNew York Times Book Review8 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. BoorstinThe Discoverers1983
  3. There is, of course, an ordinary medicine, an everyday medicine, humdrum, prosaic, a medicine for stubbed toes, quinsies, bunions, and boils … —Oliver SacksAwakenings1973
  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'BrienThe Dalkey Archive1964
  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.

Recent Examples of prosaic from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of prosaic

Late Latin prosaicus, from Latin prosa prose

PROSAIC Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of prosaic for English Language Learners

  • : dull or ordinary

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very hard to disturb or upset

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