I am writing an article about “things that nobody talks about.” I feel sure that there should be a single word which can replace the phrase things that nobody talks about? It’s rather clumsy as it stands, in my opinion.

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    We try not to talk about that. – Mitch Jul 6 '14 at 18:54
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    Lord Voldemort? – user3459110 Jul 7 '14 at 4:37
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    Are these things that are just boring? – Brad Jul 7 '14 at 5:54
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    Since the edit, this question is nothing like the original. – Thomas Jul 7 '14 at 20:53
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    Changing the question and invalidating answers is not really a good idea. It would be better to revert this question and ask a new one (although "mundane→mundanity", as you suggest, seems to fit the bill). – Andrew Leach Jul 7 '14 at 22:13

12 Answers 12


They could be taboos, or merely secrets. People probably refer to them with euphemisms. In any case, they are unspeakable.

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    mmm ... Unspoken, I think. – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 6 '14 at 18:00
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    +1, but also "unmentionable" which is similar to unspeakable. – Oddthinking Jul 6 '14 at 18:12
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    In the plural, however, "unmentionables" denotes underpants. "Elephant(s) in the room" is an expression that might be useful and relephant. – Brian Donovan Jul 6 '14 at 18:36
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    Taboo is what he's looking for – Shokhet Jul 6 '14 at 18:42
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    @BrianDonovan 10/10 for relephant – Thomas Jul 6 '14 at 19:04

Perhaps not exactly what you're looking for, but 'elephant in the room' is an idiom that you can use when talking about a single instance of something that is an obvious, unavoidable truth that people still insist on not talking about.

The phrase basically stems from the idea that having an elephant in your living room is a large and obvious problem - but it's easier not to talk about or confront it because it's ultimately a problem that can't be solved without a great degree of difficulty.

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    Indeed -- the OP needs to be more specific what is being asked. – Fattie Jul 7 '14 at 14:03
  • I'm conscious that since the original question has now been edited beyond all recognition, that this answer appears to be utterly irrelevant. – Thomas Jul 7 '14 at 20:54
  • Right, it's surprising that users with enough points, have not yet clicked delete. I just now clicked flag to delete; this has utterly no connection to the site. – Fattie Jul 8 '14 at 8:05

My question is much more mundane than it appears to be.

You may have answered your own question: how about "mundanities"?

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I like verboten. Although it really means forbidden, it's usually used in the context you describe.

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    Some pernickety readers will complain that verboten is not an English word and not sufficiently often used by English speakers to have acquired the status of acceptability that, to pick an example from another answer here, faux-pas has acquired. – High Performance Mark Jul 7 '14 at 8:22
  • I have no issue with verboten, in general, but don't feel it's really applicable to everything the OP isn't mentioning. For instance, it may be verboten to discuss sex in general due to one's religious beliefs, but discussing income, while still avoided, isn't at the same level. It may just be a taboo topic. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jul 7 '14 at 19:13
  • FWIW, this answer made a lot more sense prior to the edit of the question. – Jolenealaska Jul 8 '14 at 4:39

They are everyday things. Mirriam-Websters lists average, common, commonplace as synonyms. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/everyday

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taboo |təˈbo͞o, ta-| noun a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing. adjective prohibited or restricted by social custom: verb place under such prohibition:

this comes from the OS X built in dictionary.

Things nobody talks about are called taboo. They are taboo to talk about or taboos.

Googles etymology has the following to say:


enter image description here

If you look for synonyms to taboo: http://thesaurus.com/browse/taboo

You get the following list with acceptable alternatives on how to call things that are not to be talked about:

beyond the pale
frowned on
off limits
out of bounds
ruled out

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    Unattributed citations are considered plagiarism; attributed ones, research. We encourage research but delete plagiarism on sight. Do please do the right thing here. However, a barebones dictionary citation, even attributed, is seldom a good answer. It needs some further text elaborating your take on it and how it relates to the question at hand. – tchrist Jul 6 '14 at 21:30
  • Formatting would help a little too. – Doc Jul 7 '14 at 2:45
  • The definition and etymology you quote come from ODO if you’re interested in the “real” source. – Tyler James Young Jul 7 '14 at 21:26

I don’t think you’re going to find a single word to describe things that are not reported on because they are ordinary, but “unsensational” or “non-sensationalistic” could convey the meaning and the judgement you’re getting at.

They are adjectives, which may not have been what you wanted, and uncommon, but their meaning is easy to guess.

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Consider the word 'unremarkable.'

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  • Can you please expand on that? – tchrist Jul 8 '14 at 0:05

un•men•tion•a•ble (ʌnˈmɛn ʃə nə bəl)
2. something that is not to be mentioned.

Note: but avoid the plural:
3. unmentionables,
    a. undergarments.

A little farther up Fifth Avenue, Beaufort appeared on his doorstep, darkly projected against a blaze of light, descended to his private brougham, and rolled away to a mysterious and probably unmentionable destination. (Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence)

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There may be no single word that will serve the entire purpose of the OP, but perhaps 'arcana' covers the most territory.

Also: Reminds me of Paul Graham’s essay, “What you can’t say”, at http://paulgraham.com/say.html.

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It depends on why people don't talk about those things. It might be that they are really unimportant, and then you might say "forgotten issues". Or maybe people are affraid to talk about them, and in this case you might say "forbidden topics". Other adjectives may suit your objective: secret, neglected, censored, etc.

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Also consider faux pas: an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.

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    I don't see how faux pas is relevant. The OP is asking about names for topics not addressed for one reason or another, while a faux pas is something that is addressed (even though it probably shouldn't have). – Doc Jul 7 '14 at 2:47
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    Yes, but isn't that also what the OP is asking for? To mention something that should otherwise be unmentioned? Besides, it's just a suggestion, and I'm sure the OP could use many terms and phrases to describe the variety of what he/she is asking for help verbalizing. – dotcalmit Jul 7 '14 at 3:07
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    The problem is that OP is asking for a name for the unmentionable things themselves, not a name for the act of bringing them up. – Tyler James Young Jul 7 '14 at 21:28

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