David says to Jane: "Wow, that John is a really boring guy to hang out with."

(...at that moment, John walks into the room, accidentally hearing the conversation between David and Jane.)

Is there a word for these situations when you trash talk someone that unintentionally/by accident hears what you are saying about him/her?

Edit: added a Family Guy clip for extra context/explanation: https://youtu.be/5GwAHEgOxuU

  • 2
    Please edit your question with a sample sentence to show how you'd use such a word. At the moment, I'm not sure in what way such a word would be preferable to your own term, namely, awkward.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 6:37
  • I can’t think of one word that would only apply to awkward trash-talking, but it looks like the embarrassed fish is clearly cringing or wincing in reaction to that “cringeworthy (or wince{-}worthy) moment.”
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 15:25

9 Answers 9


David put his foot in his mouth.

foot in one's mouth, put one's: Say something foolish, embarrassing, or tactless. For example, Jane put her foot in her mouth when she called him by her first husband's name. (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/foot-in-one-s-mouth--put-one-s)

The mistake itself could be called a blooper. If you want something more old-fashioned: an indiscretion.

If David wants to express regret for what he said, he could say, "Me and my big mouth."

  • "Foot in mouth" tends to suggest, (in the US anyway), both a lack of malice and a logical self-contradiction, (or an unconcious hypocrisy), in addition to the speaker's encountering the wrong audience. The result being the speaker feeling some actual humility, rather than a mere greater appreciation of caution. Whereas overheard trash talk, (as per the OP), is only too sincere and ungenerous.
    – agc
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 17:10
  • I can see why putting his foot in his mouth would work here, but Liren requested a word for the situation.
    – jacksmith
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 21:07
  • @jacksmith - But Liren didn't provide an example sentence, so I wasn't able to come up with something more fine-tuned than indiscretion or blooper. Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 3:41

Awkward IS the word.

"David says to Jane: "Wow, that John is a really boring guy to hang out with."

(...at that moment, John walks into the room, accidentally hearing the conversation between David and Jane.)"

Jane looks at David and whispers - Awkward !

  • +1 Awkward really is a perfect word.....even if used as simply an ajective as in the OP question. I don't think it needs to be improved on or could be improved on. Most of the other answer suggestions veer away and mean something other than awkward ...explaining OTHER emotions that might be present on top of akward
    – Tom22
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 17:43
  1. shoot off (one's) mouth/face

    1. To speak indiscreetly.
    2. To brag; boast.

      -- Freedictionary

      "The whole damned bunch will fall apart ; all because you have to go and shoot your mouth off — you cock-eyed, mush-faced, cake-eating son of a so- and-so !"
      -- Hollywood Holiday: An Extravagant Comedy, Benn Wolfe Levy, John Van Druten, 1931

  2. faux pas
    noun [ C ] US ​ /ˈfoʊ ˈpɑ/ plural faux pas /ˈfoʊ ˈpɑ, ˈpɑz/
    a remark or action in a social situation that is a mistake and causes embarrassment or offense:

    She made the faux pas of referring to Wales as “part of England.”

    -- Cambridge Dictionary


The term I'd use in the context you describe is embarrassment:

feeling of self-consciousness, shame, or awkwardness.

  • ‘I turned red with embarrassment’.


  • NTM, 'David' is rude.
    – M.Mat
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 5:29

The following words could be used in the situation given:

  1. Solecism

  2. Impropriety

  3. Infelicity

  4. Gaffe

Click on the words to know their dictionary meanings.

Hope this helps!

  • a dust-up is a word for the situation itself
    – Xanne
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 23:10

David says to Jane: "Wow, that John is a really boring guy to hang out with."

(...at that moment, John walks into the room, accidentally hearing the conversation between David and Jane.)

In such a situation David will make a frantic effort to cope with the situation and hide his embarrassment with a vivid 'nervous laughter' on his face. I don't think any word other than embarrassment can portray such a situation in a better way.


Showing your true colours

David showed John his true colours. He had shown John what he really thought and his willingness to trash-talk others.

From the ODO:

Reveal one's real character or intentions, especially when these are disreputable or dishonourable.

ODO examples:

‘she was only too anxious to get out of the room now that her employer had shown his true colours’
‘Unexpectedly friendly at first, he soon starts to show his true colours as a loud-mouthed bully with psychopathic tendencies.’


Ok, I'll take a stab at this. The meaning of awkward you're looking for is this:

causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience. "he had put her in a very awkward situation" synonyms: embarrassing, uncomfortable, unpleasant, delicate, tricky, problematic, troublesome, thorny;

David's situation could be described as a number of the above options, depending on the nuance you wish to give it.

My personal favorite in this list is "thorny". That could cover a wide range of things.


Expanding on the suggestion from @Robbie Goodwin and @EleventhDoctor ("Showing your true colors"):

An common expression which more clearly represents the inadvertent or accidental revelation to someone unintended is "Showing your ass." If a single word for the situation is required, may I suggest the hyphenated: ass-reveal.

"Bob-the-brown-noser called Fred to rant about how incompetent the boss is. He didn't know that he was on speaker-phone and the boss was listening. What an ass-reveal!"

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