Also found in: Thesaurus, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


talk; spoken exchange of ideas, feelings, thoughts, and opinions
Not to be confused with:
conservation – controlled use and protection of natural resources, as forests, wetlands, endangered species, etc.
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


1. The exchange of thoughts and feelings by means of speech or sign language: gifted in the art of conversation.
2. An instance of this: held a long conversation on the subject.

con′ver·sa′tion·al adj.
con′ver·sa′tion·al·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Communications & Information) the interchange through speech of information, ideas, etc; spoken communication
2. make conversation to talk in an artificial way
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌkɒn vərˈseɪ ʃən)

1. informal spoken interchange of thoughts, information, etc.; oral communication between people.
2. an instance of this.
3. an interchange resembling spoken conversation.
4. the ability to talk socially with others: a person with no conversation.
5. association or social intercourse; intimate acquaintance.
6. Obs.
a. behavior or manner of living.
b. close familiarity, as from constant use or study.
[1300–50; Middle English < Latin conversātiō society, intercourse =conversā(rī) to associate with (see converse1) + -tiō -tion]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


  1. Conversation … was like trying to communicate with a ship sinking in mid-Atlantic when you’re on shore —William Mcllvanney
  2. The American’s conversation is much like his courtship … he gives in and watches for a reaction; if the weather looks fair, he inkles a little —Donald Lloyd, Harper’s Magazine, September 19, 1963


  3. Chattering as foolishly as two slightly mad squirrels —James Crumley


  4. Conversation … as edifying as listening to a leak dropping in a tin dish-pan at the head of the bed when you want to go to sleep —O. Henry
  5. A conversation between the two of you must be like listening to two pecans in a bowl —Geoffrey Wolff

    The character who utters this simile in Wolffs novel, Providence, follows it up with “Why don’t you let him shoot 500 cc of thorazine right in your heart and get it over.”

  6. Conversation … crisp and varied as a freshly tossed salad —Anon
  7. Conversation … it was like talk at a party, leap-frogging, sparring, showing-off —Nina Bawden
  8. Conversation, like lettuce, requires a good deal of oil to avoid friction, and keep the company smooth —Charles Dudley Warner
  9. Conversation … like dialogue from a play that had run too long and the acting had gone stale —John McGahern
  10. Conversation … rapid and guttural as gunfire —Harvey Swados
  11. The conversations … behaved like green logs, they fumed but would not fire —Truman Capote
  12. Conversation should be like a salad, composed of various ingredients, and well stirred with salt, oil, and vinegar —Joaquin Setanti
  13. Conversation … should flow, like waters after summer showers, not as if raised by mere mechanic powers —William Cowper
  14. Conversation … sweet as clover —Ogden Nash
  15. The conversation was just like clockwork. It recurred regularly, except that there was no need to wind anything up —Walter De La Mare
  16. Conversed in whispers … like doctors consulting on a difficult case —Jean Stafford
  17. Conversed like tennis players, back and forth, stroke for stroke —Jessamyn West
  18. Converse with himself, like a prisoner alone in his cell or like a wayfarer lost in a wilderness —Joseph Conrad
  19. Cutting off the small talk with an opening question like a serve —Elizabeth Spencer
  20. Discourses on subjects above our comprehension … it’s like listening to an unknown language —Henry Fielding


  21. A false and most unnatural kind of chatting, like Fighters meeting at a weigh-in —Norman Mailer

    Mailer was describing the beginning of an interview with Mike Wallace.

  22. From time to time … talk becomes effective, conquering like war, widening the boundaries of knowledge like an exploration —Robert Louis Stevenson
  23. Gabbing like college girls with the handsomest boy on campus waiting at the curb in big convertibles —Richard Ford
  24. Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after —Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  25. Good conversation, like any game, calls for equals in strength —Jacques Barzun
  26. Good conversation unrolls itself like the spring or like the dawn —W. B. Yeats
  27. A good talk is like a good dinner: one assimilates it —Jerome K. Jerome
  28. Good talk is … like an impromptu piece of acting where each should represent himself to greatest advantage —Robert Louis Stevenson
  29. Good talk is like good scenery —continuous, yet constantly varying, and full of the charm of novelty and surprise —Randolph S. Bourne
  30. Had the ability to turn any conversation into an interrogation —Ann Beattie
  31. He [the inveterate punster] followed conversation as a shark follows a ship, or, to shift the metaphor, he was like Jack Horner and stuck in his thumb to pull out a pun —Stephen Leacock
  32. (For a person accustomed to obsequiousness and flattery) his conversation is by much too strong, like mustard in a child’s mouth —Hester Lynch Thrale

    Thrale thus targeted Samuel Johnson’s brusque manner.

  33. (She) hit on the commonplace like a hammer driving a nail into the wall. She plunged into the obvious like a clown in a circus jumping through a hoop —W. Somerset Maugham

    Maugham’s biting simile describe a dull conversationalist in his story, Winter Cruise.

  34. In conversation … like playing on the harp; there is much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibration as in twanging them to bring out the music —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  35. In married conversation as in surgery, the knife must be used with care —Andre Maurois, February, 1955

    See Also: MARRIAGE

  36. The joke went on and on … scaring away any other kind of conversation like a schoolyard bully —William H. Gass
  37. Like the alternating patches of sun and shade that fell on the windshield as the clouds skidded overhead, the conversation inside the pickup went by fits and starts —Phyllis Naylor
  38. (Their habit was to engage in this) mock banter, where they slipped truths into their jokes … like filling cream puffs —David R. Slavitt
  39. Natural talk, like ploughing, should turn up a large surface of life, rather than dig mines —Robert Louis Stevenson

    Stevenson elaborated on his simile as follows: “Masses of experience, anecdote, incident, crosslights, quotation, historical instances, the whole flotsam and jetsam of two minds forced in and upon the matter at hand from every point of the compass, and from every degree of mental elevation and abasement, these are the materials with which talk is fortified, the food on which the talkers thrive.”

  40. (He had) practiced his portion of the conversation so many times … that he felt like an actor in a stock company —Herbert Gold
  41. Quips flew back and forth like balls between two long-experienced jugglers in a circus ring —Natascha Wodin
  42. The room seethes with talk. Always a minimum of three conversations, like crosswinds —Rosellen Brown
  43. Small talk is like the air that shatters the stalactites into dust again —Anaïs Nin
  44. The talk came like the spilling of grain from a sack, in bursts of fullness that were shut off in mid-sentence as if someone had closed the sack abruptly and there was more talk inside —Shirley W. Schoonover
  45. Talked … like old friends in mourning —Nadine Gordimer
  46. Talking to Bill is like opening a new bottle of ketchup; you gotta wait a while before anything comes out —Jonathan Valin

    In his novel, Life’s Work, Valin expands on this with “Sometimes you wait and nothing happens.”

  47. Talking to him was like playing upon an exquisite violin. He answered to every touch and thrill of the bow —Oscar Wilde
  48. Talking to them is like trying to get a zeppelin off the ground —Penelope Gilliatt

    See Also: DIFFICULTY

  49. Talking to you is like addressing the Berlin Wall —Colin Forbes

    See Also: FUTILITY

  50. Talking to you is like sending out your laundry, you don’t know what the hell is coming back —Neil Simon


  51. Talking to you is like talking to my forearm —Geoffrey Wolff

    See Also: ABSURDITY

  52. Talking with him [George McGovern] is like eating a Chinese meal. An hour after it’s over, you wonder whether you really ate anything —Eugene McCarthy


  53. Talking with you is more like boxing than talking —Larry McMurtry

    The simile from Somebody’s Darling continues as follows: “You’re always hitting me with a jab.”

  54. Talk that warms like wine —Babette Deutsch
  55. Their remarks and responses were like a Ping-Pong game with each volley clearing the net and flying back to the opposition —Maya Angelou
  56. Trading talk like blows —Anne Sexton

    See Also: ARGUMENT

Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.conversation - the use of speech for informal exchange of views or ideas or information etc.conversation - the use of speech for informal exchange of views or ideas or information etc.
speech communication, spoken communication, spoken language, voice communication, oral communication, speech, language - (language) communication by word of mouth; "his speech was garbled"; "he uttered harsh language"; "he recorded the spoken language of the streets"
crossfire - a lively or heated interchange of ideas and opinions
phatic communication, phatic speech - conversational speech used to communicate sociability more than information
exchange - a mutual expression of views (especially an unpleasant one); "they had a bitter exchange"
chat, confab, confabulation, schmoose, schmooze - an informal conversation
gossiping, gossipmongering - a conversation that spreads personal information about other people
talk, talking - an exchange of ideas via conversation; "let's have more work and less talk around here"
nothings - inconsequential conversation; "they traded a few nothings as they parted"
commerce - social exchange, especially of opinions, attitudes, etc.
colloquy - formal conversation
rap - voluble conversation
rap session - conversation in a situation where feelings can be expressed and criticized or supported
second-hand speech - overheard conversation (especially overheard cellphone conversation)
table talk - conversation during a meal
telephone conversation - a conversation over the telephone
tete-a-tete - a private conversation between two people
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun talk, exchange, discussion, dialogue, tête-à-tête, conference, communication, chat, gossip, intercourse, discourse, communion, converse, powwow, colloquy, chinwag (Brit. informal), confabulation, confab (informal), craic (Irish informal) Our telephone conversation lasted an hour and a half.
Related words
adjective colloquial
"The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as being heard" [William Hazlitt The Plain Speaker]
"That is the happiest conversation where there is no competition, no vanity, but a calm quiet interchange of sentiments" [Samuel Johnson]
"In conversation discretion is more important than eloquence" [Baltasar Gracián The Art of Worldly Wisdom]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


Spoken exchange:
Informal: confab.
Slang: jaw.
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
مُحَادَثَةمُحادَثَه، حَديث
cuộc nói chuyện


[ˌkɒnvərˈseɪʃən] nconversation f
to be in conversation → s'entretenir
to make conversation → faire la conversation conversation class
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nGespräch nt, → Unterhaltung f; (Sch) → Konversation f; to make conversationsich unterhalten; (= small talk)Konversation machen; to get into/be in conversation with somebodymit jdm ins Gespräch kommen/im Gespräch sein; deep in conversationins Gespräch vertieft; to have a conversation/several conversations with somebody (about something)sich mit jdm/mehrmals mit jdm (→ über etw acc) → unterhalten; he has no conversationmit ihm kann man sich nicht unterhalten; his conversation is so amusinger ist ein unterhaltsamer Gesprächspartner; a subject of conversationein Gesprächsthema nt; words used only in conversationWörter, die nur in der gesprochenen Sprache gebraucht werden; we only mentioned it in conversationwir haben das nur gesprächsweise erwähnt; the art of conversationdie Kunst der gepflegten Konversation or Unterhaltung


conversation mode
n (Comput) → Dialogbetrieb m
conversation piece
conversation stopper
n that was a real conversationdas brachte die Unterhaltung zum Erliegen
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˌkɒnvəˈseɪʃn] nconversazione f
in conversation with → a colloquio con
to have a conversation with sb → conversare con qn, parlare con qn
what was your conversation about? → di che cosa parlavate?
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(konvəˈseiʃən) noun
talk between people. to carry on a conversation.
ˌconverˈsational adjective
1. informal or colloquial. conversational English.
2. fond of talking. He's in a conversational mood.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


مُحَادَثَة rozhovor samtale Unterhaltung συνομιλία conversación keskustelu conversation razgovor conversazione 会話 대화 conversatie konversasjon rozmowa conversa разговор samtal บทสนทนา konuşma cuộc nói chuyện 会话
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
There are four or five people here that have come to learn the language--not to take lessons, but to have an opportunity for conversation. I was very glad to come to such a place, for I had begun to realise that I was not making much progress with the French.
I was a good deal troubled, for I felt as if I didn't want to go away without having, at least, got a general idea of French conversation. The theatre gives you a good deal of insight, and as I told you in my last, I go a good deal to places of amusement.
The greater part of the conversation which he had described himself as overhearing had never taken place.
The first of the ladies declared that she had mentioned arsenic as a means of improving the complexion in conversation with Mrs.
They had got just so far, and the conversation began to crystallise, as it could but do with the scanty stream which the commonplace world supplied.
Hurst, principally occupied in playing with her bracelets and rings, joined now and then in her brother's conversation with Miss Bennet.
When conversation turned on her husband Helene assumed a dignified expression, which with characteristic tact she had acquired though she did not understand its significance.
Come, tell me how are you getting on?" he went on, obviously anxious to change the conversation.
Granet was the centre of a little group of people who all seemed to be hanging upon his conversation. He was full of high spirits and humour, debonair, with all the obvious claims to popularity.
I remember that I thought their conversation brilliant, and I used to listen with astonishment to the stinging humour with which they would tear a brother-author to pieces the moment that his back was turned.
These being over, the conversation began to be (as the phrase is) extremely brilliant.
The Abbe Fouquet, not being able to comprehend why his brother should have led the conversation in that direction, listened with all his ears, and sought in the countenance of Gourville, or in that of his brother, an explanation which nothing afforded him.