What is the word for it when you make a remark, rather absent-mindedly during a conversation? It may be very significant for you personally or you may have been pondering over it, but it seems out of place in the conversation.


The best word in this context is non sequitur

  • A non sequitur (English pronunciation: /ˌnɒnˈsɛkwᵻtər/; Classical Latin: [noːn ˈsɛkᶣɪtʊr] "it does not follow") is a conversational and literary device, often used for comedic purposes. It is something said that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what preceded it,1 seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.



I think you are referring to a gaffe:

  • a remark or action that is a social mistake and not considered polite: I made a real gaffe - I called his new wife "Judy", which is the name of his ex-wife. You started eating before anyone else had been served? What a gaffe!

Cambridge Dictionary

  • Not really. A "gaffe" is definitely socially inappropriate or even impolite, even if only mildly so. Your own definition states this. "Non sequitur" is definitely preferable as it does carry these negative connotations. – Deepak Oct 20 '16 at 11:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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