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Shorter way to say “conversational partner”

What's a good word for something or someone who is holding a conversation? Or perhaps a bit broader, someone who knows how to hold a conversation with someone or something.

Need a name for something or someone who knows how to hold a conversation with something or someone.

Was thinking Conversationist, but that doesn't seem to be a word :p

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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, jwpat7, tchrist, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jan 1 '13 at 1:04

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Conversationalist? – Callithumpian Sep 23 '11 at 14:18
raconteur, if you are not looking to contribute much to the conversation :) – JeffSahol Sep 23 '11 at 17:24
up vote 6 down vote accepted

One who is good at making conversation is a conversationalist.

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I agree that conversationalist is probably the right answer (I think OP's phrase "knows how to" implies that the person is good at making conversation). You could also call such a person a good communicator, though the meaning is broader. – onomatomaniak Sep 23 '11 at 16:08
a sparkling conversationalist, if you don't mind a cliché – JeffSahol Sep 23 '11 at 17:05
Ah, so I wasn't too far off then. Was just missing an 'al'. Think I'll go for this! – Svish Sep 24 '11 at 7:23

The standard term is interlocutor, but if the word conversation (or an equivalent) is already in the context, people often prefer the less "wordy" term participant.

As @Simchona says, there is also conversationalist, but ordinarily this specifically means someone who is habitually good at keeping up the flow of conversation, so that other participants feel interested/relaxed/motivated and will thus also actively participate. It doesn't normally mean someone who talks a lot it such a way that others listen without saying much themselves, nor does it mean someone who happens to be in a conversation right now.

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Think I'll go with conversationalist, as it in my context it isn't necessarily in a conversation right now. Knows how to and could be. Also, I don't think anyone would understand what I was talking about if I used the word interlocutor :D – Svish Sep 24 '11 at 7:25
@Svish: There's no doubt conversationalist is the right word for one who's good at it, but interlocutor isn't exactly rare. In fact it's become the more common word over recent decades, so I wouldn't worry about people not understanding. – FumbleFingers Sep 24 '11 at 11:35

A neutral word would be converser, though it's not too common.

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I have seen conversant used for this kind of thing.

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