ba·nal (bə-năl, bə-näl, bānəl)
Drearily commonplace and often predictable; trite: “Blunt language cannot hide a banal conception” (James Wolcott).
[French, from Old French, shared by tenants in a feudal jurisdiction, from ban, summons to military service, of Germanic origin; see bhā-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: In our 2017 survey, three-quarters of the Usage Panel preferred to pronounce banal with a stress on the second syllable, as (bə-năl) or (bə-näl), rhyming roughly with canal and in all, respectively. Even though 25 percent of the Panel prefers a pronunciation with stress on the first syllable (bānəl), it's important to note that half of the Panel found this pronunciation unacceptable.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.