All the main English dictionaries give the following as the primary meaning of mundane:
- Dull; ordinary and not interesting or exciting, especially because of happening too regularly,
Its original meaning:
- of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one, worldly.
appears as the second and less common usage.
Mundane meaning secular, and worldly is derived from Latin mundamus which carried the same definition:
- mid-15c., "of this world," from Old French mondain "of this world, worldly, earthly, secular;" also "pure, clean; noble, generous" (12c.), from Late Latin mundanus "belonging to the world" (as distinct from the Church), in classical Latin "a citizen of the world, cosmopolite," from mundus "universe, world," literally "clean, elegant".
Etymonline does not mention its more recent meaning as dull, boring, while Ngram shows a considerable increase in the usage of the term from the 1950s.
- Does anyone know which period this semantic shift took place?
- How did a word that originally meant worldly, and secular evolve to also mean boring and dull?