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When I was writing this question on Movies & TV SE I was really tempted to use the word dialogue to describe the interaction between two characters. However the problem is that in the described scene one character says only one short sentence and the other doesn't say anything.

Dialogue (in a book, play or film) is defined as:

a conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or film

This means that this kind of interaction shouldn't be called a dialogue. However it's not a monologue either.

Can the word dialogue be used to describe a short interaction between characters with only one of them talking?

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    You might want to add a modificator to clarify the nuance of meaning you wish to convey. E.g. a "unilateral dialogue" or "one-sided dialogue" or "one-way dialogue". Oct 10, 2016 at 9:36
  • @Felix Goldberg You might want to modify 'modificator'. Oct 10, 2016 at 9:57
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    The bartender was listening to his only customer's, of the night, long and arduous monologue. Oct 10, 2016 at 10:23
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    the simple answer "Can the word dialogue be used to describe a short interaction between characters with only one of them talking?" is YES, in actual everyday filmmaking, you'd say "dialogue" (essentially meaning, come to think of it "there are two actors in the scene, coverage of both") even if one doesn't do much talking.
    – Fattie
    Oct 10, 2016 at 11:35
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    Graffito and Blessed: your example of "monologue" relates to when you (rarely, or humorously) use "monologue" regarding humans interacting. (So, my wife will tell me "stop monologuing!" if I'm being long-winded.) The question here is only regarding terms of art within filmmaking (or playwriting).
    – Fattie
    Oct 10, 2016 at 11:43

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While one is talking the other may be responding non-verbally. So, in my opinion there is some sort of conversation/ dialogue, or duologue as you please.

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    Yes, as mentioned above I'd say that YES, in actual everyday filmmaking, you'd use the term "dialogue" (essentially meaning: "there are two actors in the scene, coverage of both") even if one doesn't do much talking. In the OP's question of how are these terms used in film/plays, a "monologue" is more a formalism where "a 'speech' is inserted in the work". (Consider say the "villain's monologue".) That's different from a dialogue where, as it happens, one isn't talking much.
    – Fattie
    Oct 10, 2016 at 12:07

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