ba·​nal | \ bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio) , ba-, -ˈnäl How to pronounce banal (audio) ; bā-ˈnal; ˈbā-nᵊl How to pronounce banal (audio) \

Definition of banal

: lacking originality, freshness, or novelty : trite

Other Words from banal

banalize \ bə-​ˈna-​ˌlīz How to pronounce banal (audio) , ba-​ , -​ˈnä-​ ; bā-​ˈna-​ ; ˈbā-​nᵊl-​ˌīz \ transitive verb
banally \ bə-​ˈnal-​lē How to pronounce banal (audio) , ba-​ , -​ˈnäl-​ ; bā-​ˈnal-​ ; ˈbā-​nᵊl-​(l)ē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for banal

insipid, vapid, flat, jejune, banal, inane mean devoid of qualities that make for spirit and character. insipid implies a lack of sufficient taste or savor to please or interest. an insipid romance with platitudes on every page vapid suggests a lack of liveliness, force, or spirit. an exciting story given a vapid treatment flat applies to things that have lost their sparkle or zest. although well-regarded in its day, the novel now seems flat jejune suggests a lack of rewarding or satisfying substance. a jejune and gassy speech banal stresses the complete absence of freshness, novelty, or immediacy. a banal tale of unrequited love inane implies a lack of any significant or convincing quality. an inane interpretation of the play

How do you pronounce banal?

There are several pronunciations of banal, but the three most common are \BAY-nul\, \buh-NAHL\, and \buh-NAL\ (which rhymes with canal). The earliest pronunciation given in our dictionaries is the now-unused \BAN-ul\ (rhymes with “flannel); it is attested to in our dictionaries back to the 1800s, but has dropped out of use. \BAY-nul\ is the next oldest pronunciation. The more recent \buh-NAL\ and \buh-NAHL\ came about through French influence, since banal was borrowed into English from French, and those two pronunciations are closer to the French pronunciation of banal. All three pronunciations are acceptable in educated speech; \buh-NAL\ is currently the most common, followed by \BAY-nul\ and then \buh-NAHL. There is no reason to condemn any of them as incorrect.

Examples of banal in a Sentence

The more banal, the more commonplace, the more predictable, the triter, the staler, the dumber, the better. — Don DeLillo, Mao II, 1991 The instructor's script is banal, relying heavily on images of waves on a beach or clouds in the sky. — Maxine Kumin, "Wintering Over," 1979, in In Deep1987 … it seemed to me that computers have been used in ways that are salutary, in ways that are dangerous, banal and cruel, and in ways that seem harmless if a little silly. — Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine, 1981 He made some banal remarks about the weather. The writing was banal but the story was good.
Recent Examples on the Web Part of the film’s charm is in how seemingly banal moments take on a more tender feel. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 26 Oct. 2020 One effect of the book's tongue-in-cheek format is a chilling realization that the villains in The Playbook are extraordinarily banal. Amy Brady, Scientific American, 19 May 2022 The film’s peculiar emphasis on that clip asserts a distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the banal and the sublime that emerges in the dramatization of the explorers’ adventure. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 11 May 2022 Without exception, the works showcased in the Decentral Art Pavilion were banal, tasteless and pointlessly surreal. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 People are going into performance reviews, brainstorming sessions and the office with all kinds of grief, swinging between the banal and the crushing. New York Times, 30 Mar. 2022 The rest of Joanna’s coworkers are tormentors, banal ones, with several actors making the strange choice to somewhat underplay their roles, allowing scenes to sag while Bayer vamps. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 26 Apr. 2022 Even when the subject is banal, his line is unexpected, diverted from cliché by incident—the peculiar crumpling of a sail, or the irregular break of a ripple. Susan Tallman, The Atlantic, 6 Apr. 2022 The interrogation outside Winner’s house, led by Simpson’s Agent Garrick, comes across as both banal and calculated; no doubt the technique would seem less effective with a less garrulous target. Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'banal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of banal

1825, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for banal

borrowed from French, "pertaining to a feudal lord's right to extract usage fees for mills, ovens, etc., within his jurisdiction, available for general use, ordinary, commonplace, trite," going back to Old French bannel "subject to a feudal lord's jurisdiction, of seigneurial authority," borrowed from Medieval Latin bannālis, banālis "ordered by a ban, invested with public authority," from bannus, bannum "order given by a public authority, authority, jurisdiction" (borrowed from Old Low Franconian *banna- "call to arms by a lord") + Latin -ālis -al entry 1 — more at ban entry 2

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Last Updated

17 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Banal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for banal


ba·​nal | \ bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio) , ba- How to pronounce banal (audio) , -ˈnȧl; bā-ˈnal; ˈbān-ᵊl How to pronounce banal (audio) \

Medical Definition of banal

: of a common or ordinary kind banal skin organisms a banal inflammation

More from Merriam-Webster on banal

Nglish: Translation of banal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of banal for Arabic Speakers


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