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) \

Essential Meaning of banal

: boring or ordinary : not interesting He made some banal remarks about the weather. The writing was banal but the story was good.

Full 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Their brief encounter, a massage appointment in a Bangkok hotel room, is banal in its particulars and almost indescribable in its impact. Los Angeles Times, 13 Aug. 2021 Not that the Eternals — who get jerked through the movie’s banal melodramas, same-old action sequences, and snoozy central romance — are exactly triumphs of characterization. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 26 Oct. 2021 Yet to dwell on these elements is to miss the point—viewed through the prisms of climatological, geological, and evolutionary processes, humans are more or less interchangeable, their parochial concerns necessarily banal. Matthew Sherrill, Harper's Magazine, 26 Oct. 2021 Despite some hooky melodies, the over-earnest musical is hampered by laughably banal lyrics. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 16 Oct. 2021 The electronic accompaniment is minimalism at its seemingly banal blandest — Satie or Philip Glass reduced to beginner rhythms and harmonies. Los Angeles Times, 15 Oct. 2021 Many of her stories, and especially her novels, feature fantastical transformations: children turning into beasts; women turning into ghosts; seemingly banal lives turning mythic. Anthony Domestico, The Atlantic, 12 Sep. 2021 Especially in the later images, some, at first, appear as banal as a stranger’s family photo album. Washington Post, 26 Aug. 2021 Lionel Messi is unique, and this is why something as banal as a player changing clubs after running out his contract was deemed worthy of a push alert from major news outlets. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021

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.

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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

20 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Banal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

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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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