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Googling amongst the world's online dictionaries produces conflicting results, but on the whole indicates that the answer is "no". However, it feels so natural to say:

The conversants conversed.

Whereas: "the conversationalists conversed" is a bit long.

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Conversant is an adjective whose primary modern meaning is

having knowledge or experience —used with with

Like most adjectives, it can be used as a noun (i.e. a substantive):

The AMOLED vs. LCD debate confuses novices but enrages the conversant.

But using it in this way retains the meaning of the adjective. You cannot simply substitute one word for another, shorter word willy-nilly without confusing your audience. Conversant is not directly related to conversation, and you cannot substitute it for conversationalist any more than you can substitute psychic and psychologist or seminal and insemination.

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    That's the definite generic use of an adjective, meaning 'those people who are conversant', like the poor, the rich, the educated. There's another, rather uncommon, sense, however, which is a noun and means 'one party in a conversation', e.g, Her conversants never failed to remark on her bell-like laughter. – John Lawler Nov 2 '13 at 17:13
  • @JohnLawler Interesting; I've never encountered that usage before, and did not find it in any of the online dictionaries I consulted. – choster Nov 2 '13 at 17:20
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    OED says: "B. sb. 1. A person who `converses' or is intimate with another; a familiar acquaintance. Obs." The last citation is 1680. So it is definitely Obs. The suffix is still productive, though (informant, discussant, etc.), so it's transparent enough. – John Lawler Nov 2 '13 at 17:28
  • @JohnLawler - at what point do two people conversing become conversants? – ostergaard Nov 5 '13 at 1:11
  • @choster - sorry, unticking based on the comment from JohnLawler. – ostergaard Nov 5 '13 at 1:12
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It is uncommon but yes, conversant, can be a noun and means 'one party in a conversation', e.g, Her conversants never failed to remark on her bell-like laughter.

OED says: "B. sb. 1. A person who `converses' or is intimate with another; a familiar acquaintance. Obs."

Credit to John Lawler's comments here and here.

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