Talk:Faux pas

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Please explain the point of this page.

removed pending IPA or SAMPA:

pronounced: foe paw, not fox pass

Do Americans pronounce "paw" and "par" the same? -- Tarquin

Some do, but most don't. And it's not correct grammar to do so. Fennec

Of course, most Americans pronounce "par" differently from "pa," regardless. Twin Bird 02:31, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

I created a new section titled "Examples in various cultures". I think this kind of list would be both useful and entertaining. Please expand this section. --Chino 04:57, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Whilst most of the other examples given seemed to be accurate, informative and entertaining, some of the UK examples cited are inaccurate and not actually all that funny. VivaEmilyDavies 00:20, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Please specifiy on UK examples. What of the them are not accurate? vaceituno 00:00, 11 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I lived in the UK for some time. As an Spaniard, I found these as potential "faux pas". I suggest validation of every faux pas by one national and one foreigner. I've been told the France faux passes are inacurate. Any France national can confirm them?
I admit that I'm not an expert on the matter, but I have spent some time in the UK. The current version has four items listed for UK:
  • Not offering a cup of tea to visitors.
  • Not keeping your place in line.
  • Getting nearer than one meter from someone and not saying "sorry".
  • Touching someone you don't know, even if they are in your way.
Of those I would suggest that the two first ones are relevant. The last two are in my opinion a bit exaggerated and not very culture spesific anyway. If there are no objections for some weeks, I will remove them. --Chino 12:13, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I agree about the second two examples for the UK being rather exaggerated, especially about having to apologize for getting within one metre of someone and not saying sorry. Not that - as a Brit - I'm offended (they're quite amusing) but they are not very accurate. I shall replace them with something I believe is a little more suitable ~ Robert, 19 December 2004

I don't think I agree that failing to offer tea is a faux pas. (Well, either that or I've been terribly rude to people for years :-)) I don't feel strongly enough to delete it, but if someone else feels the same way then they probably should. --Pete

I don't oppose the tea example to be removed. I just find "amusing" how some british people feel like something odd is going on when they are not offered tea upon arriving a foreigner's place. It might be even a "reverse faux pas" :) vaceituno 00:00, 05 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Faux pas means don't do. 22:31, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Not. You're thinking of "(il ne) faut pas..." ("you shouldn't...") -- Picapica (talk) 11:30, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

The Sweden and Finland section could be merged into one Nordic/Scandinavian, since the culture of those countries is rather uniform. - Limpan 16:05, 13 April 2005 (UTC)

I've taken a stab at that. If because I goofed up, feel free to edit or revert my changes. JIP | Talk 14:45, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

difference of meaning in French and in English -- DISPUTED[edit]

Okay guys, im French and i was reading this article and i dont think there is a true difference of meaning in French and in English. Actually i think the meaning is quite similar. The definition of Faux pas that you give at the beginning of the article would be the definition of a faux pas in French. Moreover i think un faux pas, une gaffe or une erreur are pretty much the same in French, even though as you said the word faux pas may be a little more formal. Can you tell me what you think about that ?? Thanks Jonathan —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:49, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

I happened to look at that page and thought I'd report that the "However, it is a formal rather than everyday expression in French and does not generally have the figurative meaning used in English" sentence wasn't exact (and the following sentences in that paragraph either). It looks like I'm not the only one, so I'll just add my agreement to what is said above. -- FX —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:37, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Fosters. Australian for beer.[edit]

Refusing a glass of beer when offered, for any reason, is considered akin to stating that one is too good to drink with the offeror. (for Australia)

I understand that Aussies love their beer -- that may be a stereotype, but the few Aussies I know can probably attest to it -- but is this really true? What if you don't drink? Basically, is this a genuine faux pas or is the inclusion of this a half-joke? - furrykef (Talk at me) 10:31, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

This is bizarre. What is described here is not a faux pas in Australia. If you don't drink or don't wish to drink beer, no-one is going to worry, or care. Who writes this rubbish? Andy. In Australia. Not drinking beer.

Finishing food in China?[edit]

Is there a mistake somewhere? Finishing food in China is a faux pas? I‘m Chinese and although I'm not from nor do I live in China, my grandparents were. This runs contradictory to family teachings and even the saying "谁知盘中餐,粒粒皆辛苦"。 -- descender

I was wondering about that, too. Can you provide a translation for the saying, by the way? - furrykef (Talk at me) 13:40, 16 May 2005 (UTC)
Unless someone from a different region of China can tell me differently, this is definitely not a faux pas. Either that, or all the people I know are committing gaffes at almost every dinner I've been to. I will remove it from the list.User:shrimppesto
the writer probably meant not finishing your food. descender's phrase means something like "every grain you eat required suffering to put there" implying that if you do not finish your food down to the last grain, a farmer will have suffered for nothing. My chinese isn't that good though. Xunflash 15:24, 22 August 2005 (UTC)
FWIW, I spent a month travelling across China and everywhere I have been, people never finished their food; I was told the assumption is that if you finish your food, it implies your meal wasn't large enough and you are still hungry; with that in mind, it's quite understandable that it's a faux-pas. However, I can see an exception to that rule, when you are home; then there is no such thing as your host, and your saying may very much apply. Sam 14:52, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

move to wiktionary[edit]

I think faux pas should be moved to Wiktionary and I think the list of faux pas, while well-intended, is simply too subjective. I've never heard of it being rude not to take one's shoes off when entering a home in the Pacific Northwest, and I live here. For each argument there will always be an objection, and for many of these listings or potential listings, we could be bordering on stereotype.

Legitimate customs of cultural significance could be listed on country pages or even given separate pages (Social customs of France) for example.

Thoughts? Jacob 00:02, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

i agree. it might be worthwhile to keep the article here, and just remove the list (maybe put in a representative example of a faux pas just to aid with defining the term)... the list is just too subjective. --shrimppesto
I disagree. The list is getting more accurate with time. The fingers thing in UK is very real. What should be clear is what are the criteria for inclusion, as different people add things with different applicability.


I also disagree. Somethings may not be considered rude but still are acceptable or not acceptable (faux pas) depending on the culture. The custom of removing ones shoes is particularly interesting because it gets some foreign people visiting the US very upset. Would it be a faux pas for an American to ask a visitor to remove his/her shoes when in visiting his/her home? Pjgonzalez 20:43, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

United States[edit]


Not offering to pay your share of a meal when eating out, at least twice, even if you were invited or told it was their treat before hand. This is especially important when eating out with the family of a significant other in the early stages of the relationship and in business situations.

I think this is way too specific to certain people and situations to be considered general to US culture. In some settings being this grabby over a meal bill would itself be a f.p. Ellsworth 4 July 2005 17:42 (UTC)

I'm no expert on world etiquette, but many of the "American" faux pas seem like they'd be rude in general, not specifically in America, and many others seem simply irrelevant.

For example:

Asking a merely plump woman if she is pregnant.

Maybe the rest of the world isn't so weight-obsessed as Americans, but making that sort of personal assumption about somebody would be rude anywhere.

Attempting to carry on a conversation between toilet stalls or at the urinal.

I don't imagine that this is socially smiled upon in the rest of the world, and rude or not, it certainly happens all the time in the US.

Speaking in a loud tone of voice in certain small or public spaces like elevators, office hallways, doctor offices, etc. can be considered rude. A barely audible whisper is  the tone used in those cases.

Does this imply that people in the rest of the world speak very loudly in small and public spaces? And a "barely audible whisper" seems a bit of an exaggeration.

Actually yes, most Americans will whisper when riding in an elevator whereas people from other countries will speak in a normal tone of voice. And a normal tone of voice is sometimes too loud for us. I have seen this happen to friends. Pjgonzalez 20:19, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
Placing an item on a peghook so as to make it difficult for someone to reach.

What? I think intentionally placing something too high for someone to reach wouldn't be particularly kind anywhere. -- 01:45, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Totally agree with you. A Faux Pas must have a strong component of culture specificness, and not just bad manners, and cause a really bad impression. vaceituno 23:00, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

I totally agree, so I did the deletion. Saigon from europe 23:11, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

Ok, let us do more: over/under-estimating someones age is probably polite everywhere, not only in USA, so could we delete it too? Should we maybe generate some "general" section; or maybe "western culture section" maybe? Saigon from europe 23:15, 8 September 2005 (UTC)


I though faux pas meant "false not".

As in all languages (at least the ones I'm acquainted with), some words have more than one meaning. In French, Pas means both 'not' and 'step'. Brykupono 22:20, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

My two cents (I'm French living in France) :
there above was some confusion between "faut" in "il faut" (it must) and "faux" (false).
By the way, "pas" really means "step" and the actual French for "not" is "ne". But because of "ne" is shorten into "n'" before a word starting by vowel, language has evolved in appending an extra word after the verb to stress on the negation and the kind of negation.
The usual word list for such negation stressing s is :

  • "pas" (step)
  • "rien" (nothing) --> "nothing"
  • "plus" (more), --> "no more"
  • "guère" (a lot), --> "not a lot"
  • "goutte" (drop), --> "not a lot" (this one is less eand less used)
  • ...

"pas" has just become the most usually used amongst the list above. In formal language "ne" or "n'" is mandatory but in colloquial speech is is often missing by laziness (ie: " faut pas..." instead of "il ne faut pas..."). So by some way you are right : de facto "pas" is turning into a kind of "not" in speech (but not in writing). Hope this helps--Overkilled (talk) 13:59, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

so what does "ne ... pas" mean exactly? i mean i know what it means in context (eg je ne sais pas etc); it means "not" but as you say that's "ne", so what's "ne ... pas": "not step"? eh?? am i being thick or something? Mr Poechalkdust (talk) 12:08, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

Examples a bit much: From a new user of Wikipedia, some casual criticism[edit]

The definition is mostly good however the list of the faux pas on this page is hugely misleading, a faux pas is not merely doing something rude offensive or against the social norms of whereever you are, it is doing so unconcious of what you are doing, often its not the action that makes it a faux pas but the context in which its done.

e.g. Asking after someones partner is normally acceptable, but if they've just divorced their partner and you were unaware of that it could be considered a faux pas.

I think the overall definition and explanation of the term “faux pas” is brought across well with the introduction of the article. (There are some non-renderable characters in it for IE using English however, a technical issue.) Many of the examples provided though remind me more of urban myths than facts. The one given for Europe, applying to all of the European countries one is to presume, is a bit hard to swallow:

  • Using a bidet as a toilet or water fountain, a faux pas common with first-time visitors to Europe.

Are we non-Europeans, mostly Americans reading the English version of this entry and not ourselves from English-speaking European countries I must assume, really likely to mistake a bidet in a European lavatory for a water fountain, considering that a bidet is probably placed next to a toilet and is at knee level? It sounds like a story about everybody’s uncouth ‘Uncle Larry’ on a bender his first time in France, as told at the Thanksgiving day table for a few laughs. This is just one example of the urban myth flavor.

Another example seems as if it is common sense (and yes, what is common sense? What is morality, shared across cultures, for that matter?) and could be pretty universal, even though it is given as specific to Japan:

  • On the train or subway, sitting on a seat designated for the elderly or handicapped when you are not such a person.

The examples for the United States are too numerous. Some are silly (the urinal conversation comes to mind) and some are outdated (refusing to light a stranger’s cigarette). In the case of other countries and cultures it should be important that the examples are still valid, if they ever were.

It may be the case that a single example of a faux pas (one per country or culture), one that stands out as being counter-intuitive, would be the best way to go. The example given for France involving a bottle of wine brought by a guest to dinner party strikes me as interesting and appropriate if it is completely true. That Americans would would appreciate such a gesture while the French would consider it an insult is, to me, enlightening.

Single examples of faux pas that are surprising, enlightening and most importantly commonly agreed upon are more important than long lists of dubious entries. The article is not aimed at teaching international protocol after all—it would work best by giving a definition and some solid examples that give readers an appetite for further research.

peterr 4 September 2005

I removed a lot of entries, but more should be removed and regrouped. Saigon from europe 20:57, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

Thanks Saigon, a start I guess. Too many unlikely examples remain though. It's going to take a bit of work to sort the wheat from the chafe, and I don't envy the person who takes on the task of researching and isolating the true and best examples. I still think one example per country/culture would be the most proper way to go, but on the other hand I wonder how much readers appreciate humor when seeking information on Wikipedia. I tend to want to read it as an objective source, but there may be other reasons people come here.

peterr 10 September 2005

I'd vote to delete to ridiculous "don't use a bidet as a toilet". That's more like an educational thing, not a social. In fact I will remove it now. I also removed "don't have sex in a saune" from Scandinavia section. I think that was a joke. // Fred-Chess 22:25, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
I just dealt with a similar overabundance of examples at Backward message (see [1] for the version with too many examples) by copying all of the examples into an organized list at List of backward messages, leaving only a few notable or illustrative examples in the main article. One suggestion might be creating a "List of faux pas" article where people can add examples to their heart's content. This list would not have to be as strict on length or notability, but of course would still have to be policed for false or overly obvious entries. If such a list article is created and prominently linked from within this article, I think this article will be more able to discuss the concept of a faux pas with a few illustrative examples and deter drive-by editors from adding in their favorite faux pas as another example. -- Tyler 06:43, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Dealing with the List, and obsolete faux pas[edit]

The difference between List of Faux Pas and faux pas is currently too small to merit having two articles. We should either:

  1. re-merge them together—possibly not a bad idea, especially if the rest of the article gets expanded a bit; it's a pretty small article even combined with the List page, and it should only be necessary to split up a page when it's getting too long to be convenient, which certainly isn't the case here


  1. greatly shorten the "examples" section of faux pas—it should be half as large as it is now, at most.

Oh, and one more thing: reading about the removal of the U.S. light-a-stranger's-cigarette faux pas for being archaic, I was wondering if it might be interesting to mention that what behaviors are considered faux pas can shift over time as societal expectations do, and to list a few obsolete (or at least greatly diminished) faux pas from various countries? For example, the article could be spiced up by having an ancient Roman faux pas, or one from 18th century England, or what have you... -Silence 22:30, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

US Politics[edit]

The assertion that discussing politics casually in the United States is taboo is misleading; generally the more informed Americans are more than happy to discuss and/or argue about such things in all settings.

Agreed. It is taboo to bring up politics, religion, or other touchy subjects in the U.S., in mixed or unfamiliar company, but not among like-minded or debate-welcoming friends. Further, a taboo is not necessarily a faux pas. A true f.p. is something that involves the misinterpretation of a seemingly innocent (to the perpetrator) action as something with a negative connotation. I think the other examples in the list fit this criterion. I wonder if the U.S. even has any real f.p... Psora 03:33, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
From original creator of this subheader. The modern United States is very concerned with political correctness, even in casual conversation Americans often tread lightly around issues they suspect could offend the listener if put the wrong way. For example, homosexual marraige is a controversial political topic in the USA, and most Americans have some opinion on the subject, but regardless of what that opinion might be, would probably be more careful in choosing their words when in the company of homosexuals or even people whose orientation they are not familiar with. To offend a particular group is taboo in the US, but a discussion of politics otherwise is generally not. Hence, someone who treads lightly on controversial topics otherwise might be more inclined to discuss foreign policy.DougOfDoom 05:08, 13 January 2006 (UTC)


right-handed hanshake??shouldn't it be d left?cuz being a nigerian,its highly disrespectful 2 do anything with ur left hand.

also givin things in odd numbers is considered (by some) a no-no.--Adaobi 17:31, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

German punctuality[edit]

Should probably put Germany down for punctuality too.

Speaking of that...I don't understand why "being late" would be applicable only to those countries. Being late is just bad manners anywhere, so I think that should be specified a little more or removed. Also, those listed are relatively more punctual than what countries and according to whom? And does that last bit imply that the rest of the world doesn't expect events to happen on time? I'm removing it...The_Irrelevant_One 21:26, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

V Sign[edit]

The V sign isn't a faux pas, but a deliberately offensive gesture. Shouldn't be here. I'm sure telling a host of a party to 'fuck off' might be considered a false step to some, but it would hardly be done by mistake or unconcious of the prevailing social norms, so isn't really a faux pas. I'm sure non Brits/Aussies may do it by mistake, but really, how often do you signify the number 2 in that way? Probably the same as people who signify 1 with 'the finger' i.e. not many due to it being an inefficient and uncomfortable way to display it with your hands. 13:08, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

That's just it. In the USA it's not a rude gesture at all. Same with the "thumbs up" gesture - in Australia it's rude, and it may very well be in the UK as well (is it?), but in the USA it means "everything's OK". Americans are likely to make this gesture in countries where it's rude, and wonder why people take offense. Zsero 06:50, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

French example[edit]


At the beginning of this article you can read : "For example, in English-speaking Western countries, it is sometimes considered a thoughtful gesture to bring a bottle of wine when going to someone's house for dinner. In France, however, this is considered insulting as it suggests the hosts are unable to provide their own good wine."

I'm French, living in France, and I totally disagree with that. Indeed this "western polite gesture" is also very polite in France. I've offered wine many times, noone ever blamed me for that, it's always a pleasure.

I'm sorry for peterr... you thought it was a very good example of a faux pas, and you were right : if true, this information would have been very precious for an American (for example) invited in a French family. But it's not true —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 14:11, August 21, 2007 (UTC)

Things have changed : it was a "faux pas" when I was younger (I'm pushing 49 years old and I'm French) and it still could be nowadays if is not clearly shown it's a personal gift that can be used at any time (later or now).--Overkilled (talk) 14:10, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Agreed with all who say it's no longer a faux pas -- I've lived in France for 10 years now and bringing a bottle of wine to a formal dinner hasn't been a faux pas for a long time; as Overkilled says, so long as it's a personal gift for later use (and that's what is assumed unless specifically stated otherwise), it's fine. I'm removing the French example for that reason. (On a wider note, I think it's best not to use any specific examples at all, since manners change over time, and as evidenced by previous discussions, they're nearly always subject to different interpretations.) --fraise (talk) 09:12, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Middle East vs. Israel[edit]

I noticed some rules here said to apply to the Middle East are not relevant to Israel at all, for instance calling people by their bare name--Israelis have absolutely no sense of formality (well, I'm a little exaggerating...), and they even call their teachers at school by their first names; and it won't be a faux pas if you call your parents by their first name, just rather awkward. (I know this first-hand since I'm Israeli.) 瀬人様 09:22, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 12 September 2016[edit] (talk) 17:11, 12 September 2016 (UTC) a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct; an embarrassing social blunder or indiscretion.

Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. 🔯 Sir Joseph 🍸(talk) 17:32, 12 September 2016 (UTC)


This was turned into a soft redirect by a IPv6 user with only one other edit in 2015 without any consensus. KATMAKROFAN (talk) 17:42, 19 February 2017 (UTC)