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Small talk   /smɔl tɔk/   Listen
Small talk

noun
1.
Light informal conversation for social occasions.  Synonyms: causerie, chin-wag, chin-wagging, chin wag, chin wagging, chit-chat, chit chat, chitchat, gab, gabfest, gossip, tittle-tattle.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Small talk" Quotes from Famous Books



... intellectual conversation at dinner I had expected. Art, science, literature, were rarely touched upon, although I invariably met artists, litterateurs, and scientific men at these dinners. They all talked small talk or "told stories." I was informed that if I wished to hear the weighty questions of the day discussed I must go to the women's clubs, or to Madam ——'s Current Topics Society. The latter is an extraordinary affair, where society women who have no time ...
— As A Chinaman Saw Us - Passages from his Letters to a Friend at Home • Anonymous

... "Small talk, small talk," she insisted. "See how that yacht's sails take the sun. Isn't the water a splendid sapphire? Do you like to fish? Do you prefer Tennyson or Browning? Meredith or Hardy? Isn't it warm? ...
— The Henchman • Mark Lee Luther

... other family groups, stiffly armoured for the weekly penance to a bewildering puzzle of mortality. Ceremonious greetings were exchanged with these. The day was bright and the world all fair, but there could be no levity, no social small talk, while this grim business was on. They reached the white house of worship, impressive under its heaven-pointing steeple, and passed within its portals, stepping softly to the accompaniment of those silken whisperings, with now and again the high squeak of new boots whose wearers, ...
— The Wrong Twin • Harry Leon Wilson

... the doctor was nettled or his mind refused to be diverted by small talk from the business in hand. He somewhat curtly commanded Mrs Tresize to indicate on the gun-rack the weapons her late husband had commonly used, and to find him powder and shot. For a moment she pouted her lips mutinously, but ended by obeying ...
— Corporal Sam and Other Stories • A. T. Quiller-Couch

... to talk about what you have recently read. Rather hard upon your audience, you may say; but without wishing to be personal, I dare bet it is more interesting than your usual small talk. It must, of course, be done with some tact and discretion. It is the mention of Laing's works which awoke the train of thought which led to these remarks. I had met some one at a table d'hote or elsewhere who made some remark about the prehistoric remains in the valley of the ...
— Through the Magic Door • Arthur Conan Doyle

... abominable "young people's parties," where a score or two or three of boys and girls meet and manage after their own hearts. Thence it happens that conversation seems to be taking its place among the Lost Arts, and the smallest of small talk reigns in its stead. Society, instead of giving its tone to the children, takes it from them, and since it cannot be juvenile, becomes insipid, and because it is too old to prattle, jabbers. Talkers ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XI., April, 1863, No. LXVI. - A Magazine Of Literature, Art, And Politics. • Various

... Zoe was silent, but Severne talked nineteen to the dozen. Had his object been to hinder his companion's mind from dwelling too long on one thing, he could not have rattled the dice of small talk more industriously. His words would fill pages; his topics were, that Miss Gale was an extraordinary woman, but too masculine for his taste, and had made her own troubles setting up doctress, when her true ...
— The Woman-Hater • Charles Reade

... general; and under cover of it, I was addressing some tender small talk to my sweetheart when I was aware that at the further end of the table a short red-whiskered man was describing, with much broidery, his encounter with a ...
— The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition • Rudyard Kipling

... to resume the interrupted chain of my reflections till bedtime: even then a teacher who occupied the same room with me kept me from the subject to which I longed to recur, by a prolonged effusion of small talk. How I wished sleep would silence her. It seemed as if, could I but go back to the idea which had last entered my mind as I stood at the window, some inventive suggestion would rise ...
— Jane Eyre - an Autobiography • Charlotte Bronte

... further small talk, and presently Learned Counsel found himself climbing up to the seat beside Eve; beside the Temptress who, he made no manner of doubt, had come to put an ...
— Heart's Desire • Emerson Hough

... into the passage, and stood by while he put on his coat. They had used up all their small talk in the sitting-room, and had nothing more to say to each other. When however they shook hands, she observed impulsively: "Sometimes I wish we were safe back home again." But Maurice only said: "Indeed?" and displayed no curiosity to know ...
— Maurice Guest • Henry Handel Richardson

... A little small talk, a few compliments, and the delightful chat was broken into by the arrival of other callers, fine youths, admirers of Violet Wood and secret aspirants to her favor. Even most amiable Mr. Fabian felt a strong desire to kick them all ...
— For Woman's Love • Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth

... situation, to take herself in hand and dissemble; already her face was regaining its accustomed cast of self-confidence, composure, and intelligent animation. Throughout she pursued without a break the thread of conventional small talk. ...
— The False Faces • Vance, Louis Joseph

... the Old and the New, Europe and America. In the winter of 1870 the town was crowded to excess. Never before were there so many notabilities assembled at Nice—never was there so much gossip, so much cancan and small talk. It was amusing to sit in the shade of a palm tree on the promenade and review the personae of this Vanity Fair. Frederick Charles of Prussia and his princess in a landau, with two Nubians on ...
— Lippincott's Magazine Of Popular Literature And Science, April 1875, Vol. XV., No. 88 • Various

... claimed the invention as his own, accused Hell of a breach of confidence, and stigmatized him as a mean person, anxious to turn the discoveries of others to his own account. Hell replied, and a very pretty quarrel was the result, which afforded small talk for months to the literati of Vienna. Hell ultimately gained the victory. Mesmer, nothing daunted, continued to promulgate his views, till he stumbled at ...
— Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions - Vol. I • Charles Mackay

... I was six seats from the Captain at the side, between a lady and her daughter I had already met at the North-Western Hotel and did not like, and opposite to the Bishop of Saskabasquia, his wife and sister and three children. There was no help for it, I must endure the placid small talk, the clerical platitudes, the intolerable intolerance born of a deathless bigotry that would emanate from my vis-a-vis. What a fuss they made over him, too! Only a Colonial Bishop after all, but when we were all at the wharf, ready to get into the tender, we were kept waiting—we the more insignificant ...
— Crowded Out! and Other Sketches • Susie F. Harrison

... of Andrew Brown was both an opportunity and a test for McGregor. For a number of years he had lived a lonely life in Chicago. He had made no friends and his mind had not been confused by the endless babble of small talk on which most of us subsist. Evening after evening he had walked alone through the streets and had stood at the door of the State Street restaurant a solitary figure aloof from life. Now he was to be drawn into the maelstrom. In the past he had ...
— Marching Men • Sherwood Anderson

... times; there isn't a greater liar under the sun at this moment than Emilia Fletcher. My outward life is all out of tune with my inward self. Perhaps if you saw me with my old ladies, you would say: "Quite right; please them by all means, sit with them, drive with them, make small talk, listen to their little tales. It pleases them, and it doesn't harm you." But I answer: Is it right? Is it not rank hypocrisy? Is affection won by false pretences worth the having? I tell you, I am playing a part all day long. I read to them out of books that I either ...
— The Wings of Icarus - Being the Life of one Emilia Fletcher • Laurence Alma Tadema

... Frank Manison. Chief Colling nodded quietly. They relaxed over coffee and small talk for a half hour. The arrival of Waterman, Tim Fisher's attorney, signalled the opening ...
— The Fourth R • George Oliver Smith

... what is, I believe, called a lovely summer's night. To say that it is hot would be as feeble a platitude as the same remark would be in the small talk of Satan ...
— Gilbert Keith Chesterton • Maisie Ward

... Government which had no single will and no concentrated resolution. The accession of Queen Victoria, in 1837, made no change for the moment. But Wellington's famous remark that the Tories would have no chance with a Queen because Peel had no manners and he had no small talk, is only quoted now because of the falsity of the prediction; both politicians soon came to form a better estimate of her judgement and public spirit. It was some years before this could be fairly tested. The Tories, while improving their position, failed to gain an absolute majority in the ...
— Victorian Worthies - Sixteen Biographies • George Henry Blore

... as an educator, is a tremendous power developer; but talking without thinking, without an effort to express oneself with clearness, conciseness, or efficiency, mere chattering, or gossiping, the average society small talk, will never get hold of the best thing in a man. It lies too deep for such ...
— Pushing to the Front • Orison Swett Marden

... sinister conditions. Dull, horse-racing, dog-fighting noblemen were comforting themselves in Parliament, at London, by declaring that the Americans were cowards and would not fight. We boasted little, but we knew ourselves better. There was as yet small talk of independence, of separation. Another year was to elapse before Thomas Paine's Common Sense should flash a flood of light as from some new sun upon men's minds, and show us both our real goal and the way to attain it. But about fighting, ...
— In the Valley • Harold Frederic

... her falls, as well as her walk, Flatterers make cream cheese of chalk, They praised—how they praised—her very small talk, As if it fell from the Solon; Or the girl who at each pretty phrase let drop A ruby comma, or pearl full-stop, ...
— The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood • Thomas Hood

... of the maple tree above them was turning pink and crimson, shedding a glow as of red curtains, and some of its leaves were already scattered upon the ragged grass or on the shelving verandah roof of the wooden farmhouse. The words that fell in small talk from the women were not unlike the colour of these fading leaves—useless, but ...
— What Necessity Knows • Lily Dougall

... week. You see, I have just one year's furlough, and part of it is gone already. The rest of it, you and I must spend partly in the States, partly in England, and partly on the continent of Europe, so that we may return to the Great Nor'-west with our brains well stored with material for small talk during an ...
— The Big Otter • R.M. Ballantyne

... were nothing more than the customary small talk of the dance, but they sank deep into the soul of the young dreamer. The portrait, sketched by Tomsky, coincided with the picture she had formed within her own mind, and thanks to the latest romances, the ordinary countenance of her admirer became invested with attributes capable of alarming ...
— Best Russian Short Stories • Various

... by his agreeable small talk. It is so charming to hear great names mentioned familiarly by one personally acquainted with them; to learn that Palmerston and Lord John can breakfast like ordinary mortals. By and by, with a blush and a falter (for the mere matter of his personal ...
— Cedar Creek - From the Shanty to the Settlement • Elizabeth Hely Walshe

... very good to have such an article in the family. It keeps things lively and announces the world's progress with unerring certainty," she retorted, and with this good-natured sally they rose from the table. The evening was spent in a mixture of small talk and earnestness, and before they departed Mrs. Hayden received her ...
— The Right Knock - A Story • Helen Van-Anderson

... would have an object in it. How much would the state of society be improved, could there be a little reform on the side of each sex. Let the man, as the superior, commence; he will find his young female friends, beings capable of more than the small talk, with which they are too generally amused; and I think they will soon be better prepared for sensible conversation; and then let the ladies on their part be a little more sceptical in believing the flattery and adulation of the men, and not fancy ...
— A Book For The Young • Sarah French

... across the thousand-voiced small talk, came the trained notes of the voice of the President of the ...
— The Message • Alec John Dawson

... in his "Memoires,"—who, in his capacity of hair-dresser in ordinary to her Majesty, the unfortunate Marie-Antoinette, had ample opportunity for picking up all the domestic small talk of the royal family and their affairs,—that Louis XVI, in addition to all his troubles and the indignities which he suffered, besides finally being beheaded, was afflicted with a congenital phimosis ...
— History of Circumcision from the Earliest Times to the Present - Moral and Physical Reasons for its Performance • Peter Charles Remondino

... not a society man—he did not know women—all petty small talk was outside of his orbit. He regarded women as chatterers, children, undeveloped men. He looked at Kitty O'Shea and listened. She had coal-black, wavy hair, was small, petite, and full of nervous energy. She was not interested ...
— Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great, Vol. 13 - Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Lovers • Elbert Hubbard

... of learning was no handicap to Dabster. His statistics were the sprigs of parsley with which he garnished the feast of small talk that he would set before you if he conceived that to be your taste. And again he used them as breastworks in foraging at the boardinghouse. Firing at you a volley of figures concerning the weight of a lineal foot of bar-iron 5 x 2 3/4 inches, and the average annual rainfall at Fort Snelling, ...
— Strictly Business • O. Henry

... It was only when he spoke of his own subject that his face was filled with life and soul. At other times he was silent and embarrassed, too conscious of his own limitations in larger subjects, and impatient of that small talk which is the conventional refuge of those who have ...
— The Green Flag • Arthur Conan Doyle

... little caress and they proceeded immediately to the dining room, where the string orchestra and the small talk of two hundred and fifty guests strove vainly for the ascendency in one maddening cacophony. It was nearly eight o'clock before Elkan and Yetta arose from the table and repaired to the veranda whose rockers were filled with a ...
— Elkan Lubliner, American • Montague Glass

... than his juvenile rival. Coronado was far more fluent than Thurstane; had a greater command over his moods and manners, and a larger fund of animal spirits; knew more about such social trifles as women like to hear of; and was, in short, a more amusing prattler of small talk. There was a steady seriousness about the young officer—something of the earnest sentimentality of the great Teutonic race—which the mercurial Mexican did not understand nor appreciate, and which he did not imagine could be fascinating to a woman. Knowing well how magnetic passion ...
— Overland • John William De Forest

... "It comprehends no small talk concerning individuals, and no violation of the social confidences of private life. The very prevalent practice of kidnapping live ladies and gentlemen, forcing them into cabinets, and labelling and ticketing ...
— The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol. I-III, Complete • John Forster

... small talk I uttered in the Leslies' big, over-furnished drawing-room I know not. All I remember is that I sat with some insipid girl whose hair was flaxen and as colourless as her mind, sipping my tea while I listened to her silly chatter about a Cook's tour she had just taken through Holland and Belgium. ...
— The Sign of Silence • William Le Queux

... a chair. There was nothing else one could do. There is almost no twilight in that part of East Africa; until dark there is scarcely a hint that the day is waning. She sat with us for twenty or thirty minutes making small talk, her maid watching us from a window above, until the sun went down with almost the suddenness of gas turned off, and in a moment we could scarcely see one ...
— The Ivory Trail • Talbot Mundy

... no small talk, so I fidgeted in my chair while Cleary rocked gently in his. In about ten minutes, curly-headed Sylvia brought Dr. Stone ...
— The Trouble with Telstar • John Berryman

... mind that is fed upon a diet of morning and evening newspapers, mainly or solely, will become flabby, uncertain, illogical, frivolous, and, in fact, little better than a scatterbrains. As one who listens to an endless dribble of small talk lays up nothing out of all the palaver, which, to use a common phrase, "goes in at one ear, and out at the other," so the reader who continuously absorbs all the stuff which the daily press, under the pretext of "printing the news," inflicts upon us, is nothing benefited in intellectual ...
— A Book for All Readers • Ainsworth Rand Spofford

... unbecoming at any time, and in no one more than in a military officer. On the other hand, any man is flattered if he is asked about his work or his family, and the average enlisted man will feel complimented if an officer engages him in small talk of any kind. Greater frankness, covering a wide variety of subjects, develops out of longer acquaintance. It should develop as naturally and as easily as in civilian walks of life; rank is no barrier to it unless the officer is overimpressed with himself ...
— The Armed Forces Officer - Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-2 • U. S. Department of Defense

... of small talk is rather peculiar," was Iver's dry comment. He looked at the Major on his right, and at Neeld on his left at the table; Mina was opposite, like the witness before ...
— Tristram of Blent - An Episode in the Story of an Ancient House • Anthony Hope

... door-bell cut off Stephen's reply, and Mrs. Cluyme's small talk to Mrs. Brice. In the hall rumbled a familiar voice, and in stalked none other than Judge Whipple himself. Without noticing the other occupants of the parlor he strode up to Mrs. Brice, looked at her for an instant from under the grizzled brows, ...
— The Crossing • Winston Churchill

... really going in for the proprieties of life," said Steve from the music stool, with the approving nod of one who was a judge of said proprieties. "Now, Rose, if you will just coach him a little in his small talk, he won't make a laughingstock of himself as he did the other night," added Steve. "I don't mean his geological gabble that was bad enough, but his chat with Emma Curtis was much worse. Tell her, Mac, and ...
— Rose in Bloom - A Sequel to "Eight Cousins" • Louisa May Alcott

... exchange. Rick was just as glad. Weak jokes somehow didn't fit. It was the very lack of preparation, the simple walk after dinner to see the ghost, that made it all somehow very convincing. The Millers, both quiet people, were never much at small talk, but both girls were chatterers. Yet, ...
— The Blue Ghost Mystery • Harold Leland Goodwin



Words linked to "Small talk" :   schmooze, schmoose, chat, confabulation, confab



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