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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.