Word: banal

Pronunciation: BAY-nl / bə-NAL / bə-NAHL

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word for the ordinary stuff in our lives. Sometimes we encounter work that is so unoriginal it comes off as predictable and, consequently, boring. Today’s vocabulary post features one good word to describe such things, a word any serious artist would dread to hear being used to describe their own work. With all the effort we put into making our art original and interesting, it would certainly sting to have it criticized as “banal”, wouldn’t you think?

Something considered “banal” is boring and predictable due to lack of originality. The word arose in the mid 18th century as a reference to feudal service and was used in the sense “common to all”. Originally French, the adjective is ultimately of Germanic origin and is related to the Old English verb bannan, meaning “to summon”.

Used to define things that are ordinary and dull, “banal” stands among other similar adjectives I’ve featured in this segment before, such as “pedestrian“, “prosaic“, and “vapid“. In a way, you could say it’s ironic that there are so many unusual and interesting ways to say “common” and “boring”. So whenever you need a word to describe something boringly plain, feel free to use “banal” or any of its uncommon synonyms. The things in your stories may lack originality, but that doesn’t mean your writing has to! Good luck!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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