English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This is not apostrophe (no, not that kind of apostrophe) or anagnorisis; this is when a character communicates a exposition on some aspect of the story's background or context (e.g. how FTL travel works; why the families are at war) ostensibly to another character (often a foreigner or recluse) but actually in place of simple omniscient narration.

I'm not criticizing the practice; I just want a word for it.

Thanks in advance

share|improve this question
It is often called info-dumping or "as you know, Bob". see also – The Photon Aug 9 '13 at 4:56
Are you thinking of "expository dialogue?" Or the broader "exposition?" – user867 Aug 9 '13 at 5:15
@ThePhoton you should write that as your answer, and include the link too. – Mari-Lou A Aug 9 '13 at 6:44
@ThePhoton The link you provide also refers to it as an idiot lecture. – bib Aug 9 '13 at 12:52
The fifth business is a related concept, though not exactly a name for this. – batpigandme Aug 9 '13 at 13:38
up vote 2 down vote accepted

What you're describing is expository dialogue.

More colloquially, it's also called an info dump or "as you know, Bob" dialogue.

The last term is generally used in a critical sense, referring to dialogue in a movie or tv show that is obviously unnatural and presented only for the audience's benefit. For example:

Dr. Smartly: As you know, Bob, giant robots have a universal weakness for high-fructose corn syrup, and I've been researching this in my lab. If a giant robot ever attacks Pleasantville, it's a good thing the soda pop factory is nearby...

[90 minutes later]

Bob Dogood (our hero): Eat sweet justic, infernal menace!

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.