ersatz_read (ersatz_read) wrote in 1word1day,


banausic, adj.  merely mechanical; materialistic, utilitarian

Etymology:  Early 1800s, from Greek βαναυσος, artisan, mechanical.  But 'banausic' is a pejorative term, while 'artisan' - at least in our modern sense - is not.

This word makes me think of banal (trite, commonplace), but they are separate words with separate origins:  'banal' derives from the Old French banel, communal, referring to things that were open to everyone such a communal oven or mill.  Over time, "communal" became "commonplace".

from Paradise Restored: The Mechanical Arts from Antiquity Through the Thirteenth Century, by Dr. Elspeth Whitney:
"The inferiority of the banausic arts is derived neither from their technological character nor from their physicality alone but from the idea that these particular arts do not involve the soul in either its intellectual or its moral capacities but are practiced merely to satisfy its physical needs or pleasures.  If technical arts or crafts comprise the main type of arts labeled banausic, they are not the only type; dancing and tax-gathering are equally illiberal and, according to Seneca, even geometry is illiberal if one is paid to practice it."
Tags: adjective, b, greek, wordsmith: ersatz_read

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