[ buh-nal, -nahl, beyn-l ]
/ bəˈnæl, -ˈnɑl, ˈbeɪn l /


devoid of freshness or originality; hackneyed; trite: a banal and sophomoric treatment of courage on the frontier.

Origin of banal

1745–55; < French; Old French: pertaining to a ban (see ban2, -al1)
Related formsba·nal·i·ty [buh-nal-i-tee, bey-] /bəˈnæl ɪ ti, beɪ-/, nounba·nal·ly, adverb

Synonym study Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for banal


/ (bəˈnɑːl) /


lacking force or originality; trite; commonplace
Derived Formsbanality (bəˈnælɪtɪ), nounbanally, adverb

Word Origin for banal

C18: from Old French: relating to compulsory feudal service, hence common to all, commonplace; from ban ban ²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for banal



"trite, commonplace," 1840, from French banal, "belonging to a manor, common, hackneyed, commonplace," from Old French banel "communal" (13c.), from ban "decree; legal control; announcement; authorization; payment for use of a communal oven, mill, etc." (see ban (v.)). The modern sense evolved from the word's use in designating things like ovens or mills that belonged to feudal serfs, or else compulsory military service; in either case it was generalized in French through "open to everyone" to "commonplace, ordinary," to "trite, petty."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper