“Whereas he’d once dreamed of a more poetic career, Lou’s job was filled with nothing but prosaic tasks and responsibilities.”

As used above, what is the best definition of prosaic?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Practical and purposeful
Choice B - Poetic or emotionally exciting
Choice C - Dull or commonplace
Choice D - Old-fashioned or worn out


Prosaic (adjective) – having the characteristic of ordinary language; or, lacking in imagination; dull or commonplace

GRE pro tips:

Just as “poetry” and “prose” are distinct forms of writing, poetic and prosaic are adjectives with very different meanings. As you likely know, the term poetic is used to describe language that is inspired – or that stems from the imagination and communicates emotion in an original way. Well, something that is prosaic is just the opposite. Prosaic language, for instance, is uninspired, stems from the everyday, and communicates information in an ordinary or drab way. For example, the goal of a manual of any kind is to guide readers through a process in a straightforward, standardized, or prosaic way – there is nothing original about it.

In addition, the term prosaic can also be used more broadly to describe anything that is dull, pedestrian, and lackluster. For instance, most of us lead pretty prosaic lives – we wake up in the morning, maybe have a cup of coffee, and then go about our daily routine.

Example sentences:

“She was an imaginative young girl who – even while going about her prosaic chores on the family farm – knew she was destined for a more exotic life in a big city.”

“Sure, ‘The American Journal of Potato Research’ has its subscribers (primarily potato farmers), but the prosaic publication does not appeal to more literary readers.”