faux pas is actually French for false step, which is close to the English meaning of a (usually verbal) blunder.

Avoid the faux pas at all costs: think before speaking. Here's a true example (from just a week ago) of what not to do:

Standing in a video shop with my girlfriend,I notice a movie on the bottom shelf whose cover photo displays a shapely pair of buttocks clad only in a G-string. I bend down to take a closer look, and my girlfriend says, "What are you doing?" Disregarding the fact that I'm crouching next to a nearby female customer, my face just below her thighs, I reply (honestly but ambiguously), "I'm checking out this chick's butt".

I can only hope that she understood my intended meaning. I didn't hang around to find out.

faux` pas" (?). [F. See False, and Pas.]

A false step; a mistake or wrong measure.

 

© Webster 1913.

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