There is a Japanese phrase "Kuuki yomenai", which literally translates to "Can't read the air", and can be used to describe someone who doesn't get social cues or is unaware of other people's moods & intentions. (There is an equivalent in Korean as well: "Noon-chi up-da")

It's like a combination of oblivious, awkward, and self-centered. I want to use it to describe someone who would keep talking about themselves, dominate a group conversation, and not realise that the others are tired of it.

Would you describe them as "socially inept"? Or does that come with too many mental-illness connotations?



(Socially) Tone deaf!

And thanks to everyone who contributed :)

  • 4
    @NVZ That's not quite what he's asking for, and offensive too.
    – Angelos
    Jun 27, 2016 at 6:57
  • Would you use it to describe someone who doesn't understand the social situation even if they don't do something bad? This is closest to the "oblivious" word you mention. Jun 28, 2016 at 14:20
  • Here's a website which might interest you: advancedetiquette.com/2010/03/conversation-hog. Don Jun 28, 2016 at 15:34
  • Self-centred & oblivious - neither alone seems adequate for what you've described.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 28, 2016 at 15:45
  • There is a Japanese phrase... why does it have to be a single word in English then?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 5:14

7 Answers 7


I would use not tactful for such a person as tactful means:

careful not to offend or upset other people: having or showing tact (a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense)

"(S)he behaves tactlessly." could also work. Tactless is usually used attributively modifying a noun:

tending to offend or upset people: not showing or having tact: 'tactless comments'


  • I can see why you suggested this, but I'm not quite sure it hits the sense of not caring if other people are bored, rather than that they are offended?
    – Spagirl
    Jun 27, 2016 at 9:35
  • @Spagirl I can speak Japanese fluently and 空気(くうき)を 読めない literally translates to "can't read an air". I felt that 'not tactful' is the closest to the meaning.
    – user140086
    Jun 27, 2016 at 9:41
  • 1
    I can't speak or read Japanese at all, and was basing my comment on the question written in English 'keep talking about themselves, dominate a group conversation, and not realise that the others are tired of it' which didn't contain anything about offence or being upset, which is key to the definition you have given of tactless. For me, 'tactless' would suggest that the content of someone's speech or action was offensive, rather than their general behavior being tiresome. It's fine if you don't agree, this discussion just leaves the issue visible for the OP to consider for themselves. :)
    – Spagirl
    Jun 27, 2016 at 9:50
  • 1
    @Spagirl Thanks for the comment. I would be much annoyed and even angered to the point I want to slap his/her face if someone "keeps talking about themselves, dominate a group conversation, and not realise that the others are tired of it"
    – user140086
    Jun 27, 2016 at 10:00
  • 1
    tactless : "having or showing a lack of adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues." Saying someone has a lack of adroitness (cleverness or skill) is basically like calling them an idiot. Plus one.
    – Mazura
    Jun 30, 2016 at 3:28

A word to describe someone who is oblivious to the atmosphere in a group conversation would be incognizant.

incognizant (ĭn-kŏg′nĭ-zənt)

lacking knowledge or awareness. –Google

lacking awareness or consciousness. incognizant of the dangerMW

lacking knowledge or awareness; unaware: incognizant of the new political situation.TFD

incognizant (often followed by `of') not aware; "seemed unaware of the scrutiny"; "unaware of the danger they were in"; "unaware of the newborn hope"; "the most unaware person I've known"TFD

"I felt as comfortable as I have ever felt when speaking in public, wholly incognizant of my trapezius muscle or bodily fluids." –vocabulary.com

Urban Dictionary : #incognizant


Lacking remembrance, memory, or mindful attention, but wouldn't give a shit anyway.

synonyms of Oblivious, thesaurus.com :

enter image description here

See, clueless. Also; is not to be confused with this author's attitude of: "IDGAF".

  • Are you explaining to the OP that any one of the synonyms listed would fit the description?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 4:45
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - No but a lot of them do, or might, depending. It's simply a list of synonyms on which I found this word. I may be tactless but I'm not incognizant of it, as this OP's person is.
    – Mazura
    Jun 30, 2016 at 4:59
  • What you could do is place a green tick next to the synonyms you sustain do work.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 5:16
  • The picture is included only as the source of my inspiration, hopefully to the benefit of future readers, if not the OP. They don't all fit but you might make some of them work.
    – Mazura
    Jun 30, 2016 at 5:21
  • Oh noes, mouse hovers over DV as she reads: "The picture is included as my source of inspiration..." Presumably user3667107 is Japanese, so how would they tell which word is appropriate and which isn't?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 5:25

I think "gauche" above covers things pretty well. It comes from the French for "left", so it implies someone who just does things a little wrong.

English also has a term "reading the room". It means being observant to see if your behavior fits in with the how other people are behaving, usually in the sense of whether or not your topic of conversation is considered acceptable. But it's not used as a general descriptor for a person, just as a descriptor for what a person is, or more frequently, is not doing at that moment.

"Psst. Read the room. No one hear wants to hear you talk about how great your divorce lawyer is at a wedding."


As to the person who blathers on and on, oblivious to the needs, interests, and desires of the other people in a discussion, I'd call that person a conversation hog.

An indelicate way of confronting such a person might be

Hey! Quite hogging the conversation!

A more delicate way, as a teacher of elementary school children might say to a pupil who is hogging the conversation,

Now Johnny, let's give someone else a turn to talk.

At the heart of hogging a conversation is a kind of egotism coupled with a lack of empathy. A good conversationalist reads any number of things in a group discussion, including people's affects, gestures, level of interest in what's going on, and so much more. There is a certain dance of etiquette which proceeds smoothly when participants are adept at reading the situation, or milieu, and behave accordingly.

I remember talking one-on-one to a fairly famous person during an after-speech reception. His speech had included a question and answer period at the conclusion of his prepared remarks, so I confidently approached the gentleman during the reception with an apropos follow-up question, which he answered graciously and intelligently.

Somewhat unbeknownst to me, a small group of people had gathered nearby the speaker and me. Quite deftly and subtly he gestured and moved his body in such a way that the small group felt they were being invited into the ongoing discussion.

Now I wouldn't characterize my one-on-one discussion with the speaker as "hogging the conversation," but the gentleman, sensitive enough to realize other folks were waiting to talk with him, made a conscious effort to widen the circle, so to speak. I never forgot that.

As good as one-to-one conversations can be when they take place privately, apart from other folks, when they take place where other people are milling about, eager to engage others in conversation, "the more the merrier," I say. That is particularly true when a respected expert or authority has just given a speech and the after-party is filled with people who may not have the confidence to approach the speaker one-on-one. Those same people may perhaps feel free to join a group-discussion if they sense the speaker is amenable to it. Again, the more the merrier.

The conversation hog, on the other hand, would resent such an "intrusion"!

  • I like your suggestion "conversation hog".
    – user140086
    Jun 28, 2016 at 15:33

Such a person would be: gauche (adjective)

Merriam Webster

having or showing a lack of awareness about the proper way to behave : socially awkward

Cambridge Dictionary

behaving in a way that is offensive to other people, esp. because of not knowing what is correct or not caring about the feelings of others

Oxford Learner's Dictionaries

awkward when dealing with people and often saying or doing the wrong thing



a : not restrained within due or proper bounds especially of propriety or good taste

b : given to or characterized by insolent rudeness

Or perhaps "Graceless"

: awkward or clumsy

: having a style or shape that is not attractive or pleasing

: not kind or polite

  • Yes but, someone unaware of their insolence?
    – Mazura
    Jun 30, 2016 at 3:23
  • @mazura Impretinent can also mean intrusive or presumptuous (dictionary.com, not MW as in my answer). Presumptuous is to fail to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate, which can denote unawareness if clarified why a person is presumptuous. Personally, tactless is the best answer, this is just an alternative. Jun 30, 2016 at 13:08

A child.

an immature or irresponsible person. "she's such a child!"Google

  • "Do shut up, dear… Let the grown women speak."
    – Mazura
    Jun 28, 2016 at 16:02

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