• mundane •
Pronunciation: mên-dayn • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Worldly, secular, as opposed to spiritual or heavenly. 2. Pedestrian, commonplace, trite, ordinary.
Notes: The adverb for this good adjective is mundanely; you have your choice of two nouns: the rather mundane mundaneness or the more elegant mundanity [mên-dæn-ê-ti], which some dictionaries no longer carry.
In Play: The two meanings of today's Good Word are so close that it is often difficult to distinguish them, "You know, Farquhar, concerns about money should be far too mundane for a creative mind like you, so I'm going to ignore your request for a raise in your own best interest." Just remember, today's is a very Good Word to replace that utterly irksome utterance, blah: "He gave a performance that was simply blah mundane."
Word History: Nothing could be more mundane than another borrowing from French, but that is exactly what we have today: Middle English made a virtual tracing of Middle French mondain, the descendant of Late Latin mundanus "a citizen of the world", from mundus "world, earth". The Latin verb, mundare, however, means "to wash, to clean". Are they related? Julius Pokorny, one of our greatest etymologists, thought so. He posited a PIE root, *meut- "moist, wet", which came to be used to refer to earth, which does best when moist, and from there to mundus "earth, world". He points to English mud, less the Fickle N, and German Mund "mouth", with it, as related derivations connected by the original meaning.