I'm looking for a polite word for someone who traps you in a conversation. I'd like to avoid suggesting that the person is foolish, just that they continue a conversation in spite of all hints that you need to leave or hang up the phone or get on with what you were doing.

  • I’m afraid this kind of question is only going to turn into a fishing expedition with no right answer, the classic primarily-opinion-based type of question.
    – tchrist
    Jul 30, 2015 at 1:27
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    My wife's aunt.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 30, 2015 at 1:40
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    "... in spite of all hints..." Failing to pick up on social cues can be symptomatic of disorders on the autism spectrum.
    – TimR
    Jul 30, 2015 at 2:23
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    Perhaps chatty.
    – jxh
    Jul 30, 2015 at 2:31

2 Answers 2


If you want to be polite, go with "garrulous".

If you want to be less formal, go with "motormouth".

Personally, I like "oblivious chatterbox".

I googled the term and found this gem on Twitter:

For an exhausted introvert to be held captive by an oblivious chatterbox - could there be a more acute form of torture?

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    Yes, chatterbox. I think the OP wanted a noun. Oblivious isn't polite. Motormouth isn't polite either. Jul 30, 2015 at 4:09
  • I think "chatterbox" is the most appropriate noun for my need. Thanks.
    – Sawbones
    Jul 30, 2015 at 11:31

The action is to

buttonhole (verb) informal oxforddictionaries.com

Attract the attention of and detain (someone) in conversation, typically against their will: “”reporters buttonhole officials coming out of the press secretary’s office””

A description of buttonholing occurred on SE here

It is also known as 'Parson's Farewell' which is the name of a 17th Century dance in which the 'parson' steps up to each of the other dancers, bows and steps back, bows and steps back, bows and steps away; and then moves on to the other partner and says good-bye again, and again.

Buttonhole is what the Ancient Mariner does to the wedding guest,

"The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:/ He cannot choose but hear; "

www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173253 And I've often heard the buttonholers described as 'Ancient Mariners.' There's a polite term for you: by the time the talker has worked out whether it's a compliment it will be too late to protest.

  • The issue I had with "buttonhole" was that it is an intentional act. The reporter deliberately traps the politician in conversation.The politician may be less inclined to be polite in response. The OP's question implies a sense of innocence and cluelessness (they continue talking "in spite of all hints"). Hence the OP's desire to be polite and avoid offensive terms. Just my interpretation. Cheers! Jul 30, 2015 at 11:27
  • Yes, you've got the gist of it Michael_B. I do like the word "buttonhole" though -- I'd never heard that before
    – Sawbones
    Jul 30, 2015 at 11:32

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