lacking originality, freshness, or novelty; drearily commonplace and often predictable; trite

Here is my paraphrase of what the Usage Note in the American Heritage Dictionary has to say about the pronunciation of banal: There is little agreement and much confusion over the pronunciation of banal. Possible pronunciations include BAY-null (rhyming with anal), buh-NAL (rhyming with canal), and bun-ALL (the last syllable rhyming with doll). The note concludes with this diplomatic gesture: “Speakers can perhaps take comfort in knowing that any one of [these] pronunciations will have the support of a substantial minority and that none of them is incorrect. When several pronunciations of a word are widely used, there is really no right or wrong one.” Still, I would avoid the first pronunciation, as it sounds too similar to “anal.”

From The Double: “That’s just coincidence, simple, banal coincidence.”

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5 Responses to banal

  1. Jason Harrod says:

    Karl, I’m glad to see you list *all* the pronunciations of “banal.” Speaking of “canal,” my roommate, Javier, is from Panama, and is an expert in cooking Panamanian food. The Panamanians use a lot of coconut milk in their cuisine, much like the Thai. His cooking, like your website, is never “banal,” and both keep me coming back for more.

  2. Dominique says:

    I am doing a paper and i need to know if this word is still used today. please get back at me soon as possible.

  3. Karl says:

    Hi Dominique,
    “Banal” is, indeed, still used today. If you feel uncomfortable using it, “trite” is a nice alternative.

  4. rb says:

    Have never heard it pronounced BAY-null. Have only heard it pronounced BUH-nahl.

  5. Colin PNW says:

    My friends and myself pronounce it “baynull” but we’re from the PNW. I think it gives greater emphasis to the word. But then again many people from my area also use “buhnall”.

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