(Coined by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, from the Greek phatos, "spoken"; pronounced fat′ik) Of, constituting, or given to language, as formulistic talk or meaningless sounds, used merely to establish an atmosphere or to establish or maintain social contact, rather than to communicate specific information or ideas. Bronislaw Malinowski defined phatic communion in the 1920s as "a type of speech in which ties of union are created by a mere exchange of words."

In speech, examples include informal comments on the weather ("Nice day, isn't it?"), an enquiry about health at the beginning of a conversation or in passing ("How's it going?"), or the fraternal grunts of sports players. In writing, this includes the conventions for opening and closing a letter ("Yours faithfully").

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