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From Ancient Greek βαναυσικός (banausikós, of or for mechanics), from βάναυσος (bánausos, mechanical; ironsmith) + -ῐκός (-ikós, suffix forming adjectives from nouns, meaning ‘of or pertaining to’). βάναυσος is derived from βαύνος (baúnos, forge, furnace), a Pre-Greek word of unknown origin.



banausic (comparative more banausic, superlative most banausic)

  1. (formal) Of or pertaining to technical matters; mechanical. [from mid 19th c.]
    • 1860 November 24, “W.” [pseudonym], “Foreign Correspondence”, in The Athenæum: Journal of English and Foreign Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, number 1726, London: Printed by James Holmes, [] published at the office, [] by John Francis. [...], OCLC 956082422, page 712, column 2:
      The true "Gentleman," they [the ruling classes] assert, will far more easily acquire the technical knowledge necessary for an officer, a judge, or for the administration of some high post, than one who has been brought up in some banausic speciality, will be able to gain the general educational foundation essential for a good ruler.
    • 1951 September 13, T[homas] S[tearns] Eliot, “Virgil and the Christian World”, in The Listener, volume 46, London: British Broadcasting Corporation, OCLC 60626581, page 412, column 2; republished in On Poetry and Poets, 1st Noonday paperbound edition, New York, N.Y.: The Noonday Press, a subsidiary of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1961 (1969 printing), OCLC 883551697, page 141:
      It was the Greeks who taught us the dignity of leisure; it is from them that we inherit the perception that the highest life is the life of contemplation. But this respect for leisure, with the Greeks, was accompanied by a contempt for the banausic occupations.
    • 1979, John Bowle, A History of Europe: A Cultural and Political Survey, London: Secker and Warburg; Heinemann, →ISBN, page 37:
      [] the indifference or contempt which the ruling minorities felt towards "banausic" pursuits or technological gadgetry – an attitude rooted in the literary and oratorical bias of their education.
  2. (formal) Uncultured, unrefined, utilitarian. [from mid 19th c.]
    Synonym: mundane
    • 1845 August, Art. VII.—Etudes sur les Orateurs. Par Timon. Bruxelles. 1834., volume I, London: William Pickering; Oxford: J. Vincent; Cambridge: J. T. Walters, OCLC 224136957, page 206:
      After 1812, and when the worst portion of the Tories got enthroned in the supremacy, when the Banausic principle (we must coin a word from the most expressive of languages to express all its intense vulgarity) began to obtain, [] Lord Grey [Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey] did what might have been expected from so high a gentleman. [] He opposed but not incessantly, angrily, nor with constant faction, but in stately speeches and solemn protests.
    • 1957, Lawrence Durrell, “Part I”, in Justine, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: E[dward] P[ayson] Dutton & Co., OCLC 24125287, page 76:
      [H]ow graceful and accurate a portrait of Alexandria he manages to convey; Alexandria and its women. [] One could not expect more from an intruder of gifts who almost by mistake pierced the hard banausic shell of Alexandria and discovered himself.
    • 2001, Rupert Woodfin; Judy Groves, illustrator, Richard Appignanesi, editor, Introducing Aristotle (Introducing …), →ISBN, page 152; republished as Introducing Aristotle: A Graphic Guide, London: Icon Books, 2012, →ISBN:
      Not only do poets and artists “tell lies”, not only is art a banausic bad habit, but, worse yet, it ignites desires and passions that prevent us from being the calm intellectual observers required of well-behaved citizens.
    • 2003, Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason, London: Penguin Books, →ISBN; republished London: Penguin Books, 2004, →ISBN, page 456:
      But how could man respect himself when he was always being brought down to earth by the most banausic things?
    • 2007, Philip Howard, “Modern Manners”, in The Times, London; republished in “How Not to Put Your Foot in It”, in Modern Manners: The Essential Guide to Correct Behaviour and Etiquette, London: The Robson Press, 2013, →ISBN:
      People, upon first meeting me, ask: ‘Do you rent or buy?’ I find this impertinent. [] You could fake philosophical unconcern, implying that such banausic matters are best left to your estate agent and factor: ‘I quite forget: my people look after such things.’


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