small talk

small talk (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) Idle conversation, typically on innocuous or unimportant subjects, usually engaged in at social gatherings out of politeness.
    • 1814 July, [Jane Austen], chapter VII, in Mansfield Park: A Novel. In Three Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for T[homas] Egerton, […], OCLC 39810224 ↗, page 134 ↗:
      [T]o the credit of the lady it may be added, that […] without any of the arts of flattery or the gaieties of small talk, he began to be agreeable to her.
    • 1910, P. G. Wodehouse, Misunderstood:
      If he had a fault as a conversationalist, it was a certain tendency to monotony, a certain lack of sparkle and variety in his small-talk.
    • 2009 June 10, John Cloud, “Michael Jackson 1958–2009”, in Time[,28804,1907409_1907486_1907480-3,00.html]:
      Yet for so public a figure, Jackson was socially awkward, inept at small talk and terrified when the distant audience became an adoring mob.
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