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Definition: Baunausic can be used to refer to something that is mechanical, vulgar, without artistic merit.

Pronunciation: Ban-ah-sik

Origin: Banausic derives from the ancient Greek word ‘banausos’, referring to anything that was, essentially, ‘made in a forge’ – something artisanal and mechanical. In essence, it refers to something that is utilitarian or something that produces utilitarian things. It entered the English language in the mid-19th century. It is thought, however, that what we now understand as the definition of banausic was how the Elizabethans defined the word ‘mechanical’.

Why This Word:

Banausic, rather ironically, has an interesting history. In ancient Greece, the need for a word such as this arose with the evolution of the Hoplite class. Suddenly, there was a class of people who did mechanical, utilitarian jobs to produce mechanical, utilitarian things. They referred to themselves by the term ‘Banausos’. Thus, although it was originally a meaning that they used for themselves (or, at least, it is believed that this happened), it was then later used by non-banausic classes to ridicule those that were, well, banausic. It is an unusual case of a descriptive word that originated by the group themselves that evolved into an insult used by others to describe the original group.

How to use this word:

Today, banausic can be used to describe anything that one feels is uninspiring or utilitarian. Not everyone will know what you are referring to – but used as part of a tirade against vulgar banality that includes other words such as ‘bland’, ‘monotonous’, ‘pedestrian’ and ‘plodding’, it will be readily understood by your fellow food and art critics ….


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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