faux pas

\ ˈfō-ˌpä How to pronounce faux pas (audio) , fō-ˈpä\
plural faux pas\ ˈfō-​ˌpä(z) How to pronounce faux pas (audio) , fō-​ˈpä(z) \

Definition of faux pas

: a significant or embarrassing error or mistake : blunder Long, hot soaks in winter are a classic faux pas, since exposure to extreme heat after having been in the cold can cause small visible blood vessels to appear at the skin's surface.Elle especially : a socially awkward or improper act or remark Audiences must be supportive and enthusiastic—lots of clapping, no heckling. (And talking on cellphones during the performance is a huge faux pas). — Claudine Ise … when I sauntered into the main dining room for my first breakfast, I realized I was the only person showing his legs. Careless faux pas, or was I being overly sensitive to the local culture? — David Swanson Campaigning last year seemed to convince her that she can venture out alone without making costly faux pas. Time Magazine It was not until I'd covered about fifty kilometers that I committed my most terrible social faux pas yet: I overtook another cyclist. — Polly Evans

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Examples of faux pas in a Sentence

Arriving too early would be a serious faux pas. according to an oft-told story, the queen set a guest at ease about a faux pas by politely imitating it

Recent Examples on the Web

Emily Post might be rolling over in her grave knowing that online wedding invitations even exist, but that doesn’t mean that sending them is a faux pas. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Venamour Launches Online Wedding Invites—Plus 10 Other Chic Options That Make the Case for Going Paperless," 15 Jan. 2019 Nine years ago, then-First Lady Michelle Obama met Queen Elizabeth II and accidentally committed a royal faux pas by putting her arm around the monarch. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Michelle Obama Reveals the Real Reason Why She Hugged the Queen," 13 Nov. 2018 Last night, the model posted a photo of her nonchalant nip slip at the table, turning a social media faux pas into a sultry dinner snap. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Emily Ratajkowski Instagrammed Her Nip Slip at Dinner Because Why Not," 14 Aug. 2018 Courter shrugs off the Self Portrait tag faux pas as inevitable in the cycle of 76 royal engagements in 16 days. Michelle Ruiz, Marie Claire, "I Respect Jessica Mulroney's Hustle—and Her Loyalty to Meghan Markle," 18 Dec. 2018 Leaving behind its faux pas past, nouveau riche had become a status symbol. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "How the JAP became America’s most complex Jewish stereotype.," 5 Dec. 2018 Although many might consider the black-and-navy combo a fashion faux pas, Markle turned the unexpected pairing into a sleek, professional ensemble. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Wears Oscar de la Renta and Altuzarra at the Coach Core Awards," 24 Sep. 2018 Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse has written a clever, biting script about the near pathological fear of liberal-minded Americans to make racial, gender and ethnic faux pas and offend people unintentionally. Mitchel Benson, sacbee, "‘Thanksgiving Play’ gone off the rails? That’s the genius in Capital Stage's comedy," 5 July 2018 Thought that tights and sandals were a fashion faux pas? Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Lily-Rose Depp Pulls a Fashion Faux Pas on the Red Carpet—and Wins," 18 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'faux pas.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of faux pas

1676, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for faux pas

French, literally, false step

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Learn More about faux pas

Dictionary Entries near faux pas


faux jour


faux pas

faux satine


fava bean

Statistics for faux pas

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for faux pas

The first known use of faux pas was in 1676

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More Definitions for faux pas

faux pas


English Language Learners Definition of faux pas

: an embarrassing social mistake

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More from Merriam-Webster on faux pas

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with faux pas

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for faux pas

Spanish Central: Translation of faux pas

Nglish: Translation of faux pas for Spanish Speakers

Comments on faux pas

What made you want to look up faux pas? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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