conversation

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conversation piece

Something unusual or interesting that becomes or is intended to become the topic of conversation when it is encountered by other people. Did you see Helen's new chair that's shaped like a giant red stiletto shoe? Yes, it's quite the conversation piece! Jane's new hairstyle became a conversation piece in the office because people couldn't believe she would cut her hair so short.
See also: conversation, piece

open a conversation

to start a conversation. (See also strike up a conversation.) I tried to open a conversation with him, but he had nothing to say. She opened a conversation with an inquiry into my health, which got me talking about my favorite subject.
See also: conversation, open

strike up a conversation

to start a conversation (with someone). I struck up an interesting conversation with someone on the bus yesterday. It's easy to strike up a conversation with someone when you're traveling.
See also: conversation, strike, up

a conversation piece

a strange or interesting object that people talk about Charlotte's collection of Victorian cards were a good conversation piece.
See also: conversation, piece

conversation piece

An unusual object that arouses comment or interest, as in That bust of Aunt Nettie is ugly but it's an excellent conversation piece. In the early 1700s this same term was used for a particular kind of painting that represented a group, often a family, arranged as though they were conversing with one another. Later in the century the term was extended to any object that stimulates conversation.
See also: conversation, piece

make conversation

Engage someone in talking purely for its own sake, make small talk, as in She had a real talent for making conversation with strangers. [c. 1920]
See also: conversation, make
References in classic literature ?
She has shown us how to take the friction out of conversation, and taught us refinements of politeness which were rare even among the Beau Brummels of pre-telephonic days.
More than one conversation was based on what would become of so fine a property, together with the old maid's savings and her uncle's inheritance.
When they spoke, although Teresa listened timidly and with downcast eyes to the conversation of her cavalier, as Luigi could read in the ardent looks of the good-looking young man that his language was that of praise, it seemed as if the whole world was turning round with him, and all the voices of hell were whispering in his ears ideas of murder and assassination.
However, he thanked this respectable old chair for beginning the conversation, and begged to know whether it had anything particular to communicate.
Did you yourself ever recommend arsenic, or mention it casually, in the course of the private conversations which you have described?
Much as she had suffered from her first conversation with Lucy on the subject, she soon felt an earnest wish of renewing it; and this for more reasons than one.
Milady changed the conversation without any appearance of affectation, and asked D'Artagnan in the most careless manner possible if he had ever been in England.
It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing were made the order of the day.
The will of Cardinal Mazarin was the text of the conversation at the second course and dessert; then Fouquet ordered bowls of sweetmeats and fountains of liquors to be carried into the salon adjoining the gallery.
There are four or five people here that have come to learn the language--not to take lessons, but to have an opportunity for conversation.
Thorpe, in what they called conversation, but in which there was scarcely ever any exchange of opinion, and not often any resemblance of subject, for Mrs.
I remember that I thought their conversation brilliant, and I used to listen with astonishment to the stinging humour with which they would tear a brother-author to pieces the moment that his back was turned.
And having got rid of this young man who did not know how to behave, she resumed her duties as hostess and continued to listen and watch, ready to help at any point where the conversation might happen to flag.
Jane Porter, the professor's daughter, is in strained and lifeless conversation with William Cecil Clayton and Tarzan of the Apes.
The audience drew a little breath and then applauded; the orchestra struck up and a buzz of conversation began.