What does prosaic mean?

Word count: 206 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

If you increase your vocabulary, you’ll not only benefit your own reading, you’ll also become more precise in your writing. Here is my word of the week.

Whenever I encounter a word that interests me I jot a quick note about it in my iPhone. Usually, I also record the source. For reasons I can no longer fathom, I failed to note the source of today’s word of the week, prosaic. Here’s the sentence in which it appeared:

Memory foam mattresses actually had their origins in a space travel lab but ended up being a rather prosaic product.

I’ve used this word dozens of times before but must confess I’ve never truly understood its meaning. (Do you ever do that?) It means commonplace or unromantic. The word dates back to the 16th century — a time when poetry was understood to be a highly romantic form of expression. It was far more romantic than mere prose, which was considered everyday or commonplace –prosaic.

The word originates from the French prosaique, which comes, in turn, from the Middle Latin, prosaicus meaning “in prose.”

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