ba·nal (bə-năl, bānəl, bə-näl)
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: The pronunciation of banal is not settled among educated speakers of American English, and several variants compete with each other. The pronunciation (bə-năl), rhyming with canal, was preferred by 58 percent of the Usage Panel in our 2001 survey, while 28 percent favored (bānəl), and 13 percent said they used (bə-näl), a pronunciation that is more common in British English. A number of Panelists admitted to being so vexed by the word that they tended to avoid it in conversation. Nonetheless, all three pronunciations should be considered acceptable.
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