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What are some words or phrases that can be used when a person is discussing a particular subject with a group of people and unintentionally she/he talks about something unrelated? I need a formal expression.

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closed as not constructive by RegDwigнt Oct 20 '12 at 13:30

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The usual expression is 'beside the point', but if someone is being evasive we might complain that they're 'going off the point'. –  Barrie England Mar 26 '12 at 18:28
    
possible duplicate of What is a word that means "to railroad the conversation"? –  FumbleFingers Mar 26 '12 at 19:43
    
going down a rabbit trail –  zpletan Mar 28 '12 at 3:25

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Here are a few ways of expressing that, from casual to more formal:

  • Going off-topic
  • Getting off track
  • Rambling or not getting to the point
  • Losing focus
  • Digressing
  • Tangential to the discussion
  • Not relevant to the topic at hand
  • Diverting the conversation
  • Subject is not pertinent to the conversation
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These are exactly what I have been looking for!! Thanks!! –  user19341 Mar 26 '12 at 18:45
    
Great! I'm happy I was able to help! –  Ellie Kesselman Mar 26 '12 at 18:49
    
One might also say "on a side note..." or related to "tangential to the discussion" but less formal "(going) off on a tangent" –  TecBrat Aug 23 '12 at 16:47

I'm fond of going off-topic. You could also say that they are going off on a tangent or speaking tangentially.

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"Fond of going off-topic." - good you don't ask many questions here then :P –  Daniel Mar 26 '12 at 18:45
    
Speaking of good burger joints... –  Jim Mar 26 '12 at 19:54
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I saw a turtle! –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 26 '12 at 20:04
    
@cornbreadninja Oooo shiny! But that isn't formal ;o) I liked the turtle. –  Ellie Kesselman Aug 27 '12 at 5:59

The short answer is: "digress". It means to go off-topic.

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The expression you need is "That's beside the point". Alternatively you can also say "That's irrelevant."

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Funny no one has mentioned this yet. I thought I might as well include this. It's "sidetrack" :

To divert from a main issue or course:

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