phatic

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Ancient Greek φατός (phatós, spoken), from φημί (phēmí, I say)

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Adjective[edit]

phatic (comparative more phatic, superlative most phatic)

  1. (linguistics) 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.)
    • 1978, Anthony Burgess, 1985:
      Generally speaking, statements in WE are expected to be of a tautologous nature, thus fulfilling the essential phatic nature of speech.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 467:
      Dispensing with phatic chitchat, he began straightaway to tell the story of his “people.”

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