you: How's the job?
them: ...I got fired.


you: How's your mom doing? *enthusiastically*
them: ...she passed away.

What would you call that? This happens a lot, and it's always awkward.

  • Not sure if there's a single term since there are underlying factors such as whether or not the asker already knows the answer and is provoking the askee - but in the absence of malice, you might say that it is a case of unintentionally putting your foot in your mouth. Oct 16, 2015 at 19:52
  • That's sometimes known as "putting your foot in it". (With "it" being your mouth or a pile of excrement, same difference.)
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 17, 2015 at 1:06
  • A "quagmire" ? (an awkward, complex, or embarrassing situation)
    – Graffito
    Oct 17, 2015 at 1:10

3 Answers 3


I think you can call it a gaffe:

  • a socially awkward or tactless act

The Free Dictionary


The first word that comes to mind is to blunder.


In addition to the other excellent answers ('gaffe' and 'blunder') one might also reach for the French, 'faux pas'. Alternately you might consider 'solicism' although it's relatively little known and frankly not as good as the three aforementioned.

From Webster's Third New International Dictionary:

faux pas noun plural faux pas
Etymology: French, literally, false step
blunder; especially a social blunder

There is also (and I have to admit the thesaurus delivered this one) 'infelicity'.

From Webster's Third New International Dictionary:

infelicity noun
Etymology: Middle English infelicite, from Latin infelicitas, from infelic-, infelix unfortunate, unhappy (from in- in- (I) + felic-, felix fruitful, happy) + -itas -ity — more at feminine
1. the quality or state of being infelicitous:
a. unhappiness, wretchedness, misfortune
confusion and infelicity of her emotions — Elinor Wylie
b. lack of suitableness or appropriateness
2. something (as an act or word) that is infelicitous
examined for infelicities before printing — E.P.Cheyney

'Infelicity' or 'infelicitous' has the curious character of likely provoking it's own context, thus:

"What! In Who?!"
"Yes, a perfect example."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.