Banausic is a new one on me. I did not have the foggiest what it meant before I saw it on the Merriam-Webster ‘Word of the Day.’ I don’t think it’s a word I will be using often – it’s quite ugly, don’t you think? 🙂

Here is what it means:

adjective buh-NAW-sik


: relating to or concerned with earning a living — used pejoratively; also : utilitarian, practical

“At the far end was a wooden board on which were hung saws, chisels, knives and other banausic instruments of the trade.” — Sebastian Faulk, Human Traces, 2005
“That story is followed by a brilliant allegory of reality TV and the cult of personality, Rumours About Me, in which a simple company man sees his banausic daily life … broadcast by the media until he is transformed into ‘a nobody who was known by everybody.'” — Christine Thomas, The Miami Herald, 2 Nov. 2008

Did You Know?

The ancient Greeks held intellectual pursuits in the highest esteem, and they considered ideal a leisurely life of contemplation. A large population of slaves enabled many Greek citizens to adopt that preferred lifestyle. Those who had others to do the heavy lifting for them tended to regard professional labor with contempt. Their prejudice against the need to toil to earn a living is reflected in the Greek adjective banausikos (the root of banausic), which not only means “of an artisan” (from the word for “artisan,” banausos) but “nonintellectual” as well.

The philosophy of the ancient Greeks is an interesting one. In many ways I also consider “a leisurely life of contemplation” to be noble and is an essential process in the art of creating whether that is a book or a painting for example.

But where I differ is in my attitude to those who toil for a living and act as a vital prop in the support system for non-laboring intellectuals. I have the utmost regard and respect for them. In my life, I have performed tasks both of an intellectual nature and labored with my hands. It’s good for the soul.

Maybe Chairman Mao had a point in forcing the party intellectuals and the bureaucrats back to the land? A little humility serves us all well.