I am writing a memo (quite formal) and I need to mention that the attitudes in the previous meeting were really offtopic, the team didn't focus on the important matters.

Were it informal writing I would use go all round the houses. Which expression would be adequate for a formal context?

  • Why not say that "the attitudes in the previous meeting where really off topic"? Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 14:40
  • Because that's a little too direct.
    – pdjota
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 14:43
  • 1
    Are you the leader of this team? If so, then you should be direct. Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 14:44
  • It is not about a position, it is about directness, but thanks for your concern.
    – pdjota
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


You could say unproductive or unfocused.

Not so long ago, you could have used the word inappropriate, but that is now a suggestive catch-all for anything awkward, lewd, rude or lecherous.

  • heh great point on "inappropriate" ..
    – Fattie
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 13:32

I would use the word prevaricate.


[no object]

Speak or act in an evasive way:

‘he seemed to prevaricate when journalists asked pointed questions’

For your specific scenario I suppose the phrase "I noticed a fair amount of prevarication at our previous meeting" or something similar would be appropriate.

  • I agree with this answer as the technically correct one, but I think given other comments by the asker that it would be too direct, as it is fairly unambiguous. What they actually seemed to want is a politic way of expressing the sentiment, not the correct formal word.
    – Sam
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 16:00

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