ba·​nal bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio)
-ˈnäl How to pronounce banal (audio)
ˈbā-nᵊl How to pronounce banal (audio)
: lacking originality, freshness, or novelty : trite
bə-ˈna-ˌlīz How to pronounce banal (audio)
transitive verb
bə-ˈnal-lē How to pronounce banal (audio)

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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.

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

Example Sentences

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 Meir and Tova are an upper-middle-class Sephardic couple, seemingly resigned to live out the rest of their semi-retirement in the banal comforts of an upscale apartment complex in a Tel Aviv suburb. The Courier-Journal, 2 Feb. 2023 The world hasn’t been particularly fair to them thus far, as a series of banal flashbacks eventually reveal (homophobic parents who don’t accept them, an adoption process that doesn’t accept them, a drunk bar patron who doesn’t accept them). Peter Debruge, Variety, 1 Feb. 2023 The Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry first gained wide attention with a 1965 Melrose Avenue live-work studio for the graphic designer Lou Danziger, which was wrapped in plain stucco, aping the banal architecture around it. Christopher Hawthorne, The New Yorker, 27 Jan. 2023 Instead, ‘One Fine Morning’ accrues subtle power through repetition, as characters put themselves through the same banal ordeals again and again hoping for different outcomes. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 27 Jan. 2023 The principal characters are drawn into a melancholy triangulation, but this is no banal romantic triangle drama. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Jan. 2023 There is no banal color commentary, no players milling around between plays and no footage of coaches who inhale millions of dollars of public money. Ali Breland, New York Times, 10 Jan. 2023 Selena Gomez is in the midst of a frenetic, painfully banal press tour. Vulture, 2 Nov. 2022 His pronouncements on ethics and politics were exceedingly banal. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 17 Dec. 2022 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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1825, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of banal was in 1825

Dictionary Entries Near banal

Cite this Entry

“Banal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


ba·​nal bə-ˈnal How to pronounce banal (audio) ba- How to pronounce banal (audio) -ˈnȧl How to pronounce banal (audio)
: not original, fresh, or exciting : stale, commonplace
 also  bā-
 or  ba-
bə-ˈnal-lē How to pronounce banal (audio)

Medical Definition

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

More from Merriam-Webster on banal

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