Drearily commonplace and often predictable; trite: “Blunt language cannot hide a banal conception”(James Wolcott).
Origin: French, from Old French, shared by tenants in a feudal jurisdiction, from ban, summons to military service, of Germanic origin; see bhā-2 in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: The pronunciation of banal is not settled among educated speakers of American English. Sixty years ago, H.W. Fowler recommended the pronunciation (bănˈəl, rhyming with panel), but this pronunciation is now regarded as recondite by most Americans: no member of the Usage Panel prefers this pronunciation. In our 2001 survey, (bənălˈ) is preferred by 58 percent of the Usage Panel, (bāˈnəl) by 28 percent, and (bə-nälˈ) by 13 percent (this pronunciation is more common in British English). Some Panelists admit to being so vexed by the problem that they tend to avoid the word in conversation. Speakers can perhaps take comfort in knowing that these three pronunciations each have the support of at least some of the Usage Panel and that none of them is incorrect. When several pronunciations of a word are widely used, there is really no right or wrong one.