Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or being speech used to share feelings or to establish a mood of sociability rather than to communicate information or ideas.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Pertaining to words used to convey any kind of social relationship e.g polite mood, rather than meaning; for example, "How are you?" is often not a literal question but is said only as a greeting. (Similarly, a response such as "Fine" is often not an accurate answer, but merely an acknowledgement of the greeting.)

Etymologies

From Greek phatos, spoken, from phanai, to speak; see -phasia.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek φατός (phatos, "spoken"), from φημί (phēmi, "I say") (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • denoting speech used to express or create an atmosphere of shared feelings, goodwill, or sociability rather than to impart information: phatic communion.

    July 14, 2009

  • i am so non-phatic:)

    December 23, 2008

  • Or as Marshall McLuhan has it, "the medium is the message."

    August 25, 2008

  • It is so unappealing, but it has such a great meaning. Pity.

    March 3, 2008

  • I am a great fan of "phatic communion" - conversational exchanges with almost no meaning ("Nice weather for this time of the year!") just to show that you care enough to say something.

    December 18, 2007