According to wikipedia, smalltalk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed. For example:

  • William: Morning, Paul.
  • Paul: Oh, morning, William, how are you?
  • William: Fine, thanks. Have a good weekend?
  • Paul: Yes, thanks. Catch you later.
  • William: OK, see you.

I haven't found a word to describe the opposite: an informal type of discourse that DOES cover a functional topic of conversation or a transaction that need to be addressed.

Could we say "deep talk"? Maybe just "non-smalltalk" is the best option?


I refer to the conversation I have with closer friends which is the opposite of small talk as

Deep/Meaningful/Insightful talk
  • I think all answers are correct. Personally, I like more both this one and substantial talk (from @Elian) because I can say: "I like insignhtful talks" or "I like substantial talks". If I say "I like serious conversations" or "I like discussions" or "I like conversation" or "I like to talk", it sounds less clear for me. – chelder May 5 '14 at 19:51

I would call it serious conversation.


I would say either discussion or discourse, or even intercourse, although intercourse doesn't necessarily imply that the talk actually achieved a communication objective.


"talk" would be the best option.

If you say to someone "We need to have a talk" or "Can we have a talk?", it obviously implies a meaningful one.

Consider also meaty and "substantial" talk (or discussion, conversation).


substantive suhb-stuh n-tiv/ adjective

having practical importance, value, or effect.

A substantive conversation as opposed to "small talk"

small talk smôl ˌtôk/ noun

polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, especially as engaged in on social occasions.

Both a substantive conversation and small talk are also in contrast to a rhetorical argument.

rhetorical rəˈtôrək(ə)l/ adjective

expressed in terms intended to persuade or impress.

To best choose which term to use, consider the content, intention and setting.

  • Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. – NVZ May 29 '17 at 14:03
  • @NVZ happy to provide additional information. I hope that helps – PV22 May 29 '17 at 14:41

I would say conversation would be the most appropriate antonym. Smalltalk is a subset of conversation. The characteristics of this subset dictate that it has no functional topic. Once you remove this charateristic, it just becomes conversation.


brass tacks, as in the idiomatic phrase "get down to brass tacks".


Although less common, the term big or large talk certainly does exist, as attested by the users in this Quora thread.


What about having a one on one or a heart to heart/heartful convo, can I speak to you in private?, I always liked the "No, but seriously...." Line but meaningful is another good one. I'm just trying to think of something short and simple.

heart to heart a serious conversation between two people, usually close friends, in which they talk honestly about their feelings - Cambridge Dictionary

A heart-to-heart is a frank and honest conversation with someone, where you talk honestly and plainly about issues, no matter how painful. - usingenglish.com

  • 1
    Hello and welcome. I like your suggestion of "heart to heart". It can be helpful to cite and link to definitions and usage examples in order to support your answer. I've added a couple for you. Feel free to add more, edit these, or roll them back. – Lawrence May 29 '17 at 13:57

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