phatic

adjective
phat·​ic | \ ˈfa-tik How to pronounce phatic (audio) \

Definition of phatic

: of, relating to, or being speech used for social or emotive purposes rather than for communicating information

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Other Words from phatic

phatically \ ˈfa-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce phatic (audio) \ adverb

Phatic Has Greek Roots

Phatic was coined in the early 20th century by people who apparently wanted to label a particular quirk of human communication-the tendency to use certain rote phrases (such as the standard greeting "how are you?") merely to establish a social connection without sharing any actual information. It probably won't surprise you, then, to learn that phatic derives from the Greek phatos, a form of the verb phanai, meaning "to speak." Other descendants of "phanai" in English include "apophasis" ("the raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it"), "euphemism," "prophet," and the combining suffix -phasia (used to denote a speech disorder). You may also have spotted a similarity to "emphatic," but that turns out to be purely coincidence; "emphatic" traces back to a different Greek verb which means "to show."

First Known Use of phatic

1922, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phatic

Greek phatos, verbal of phanai to speak

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Time Traveler for phatic

Time Traveler

The first known use of phatic was in 1922

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Cite this Entry

“Phatic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phatic. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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