As titled, for example if we say "Excuse me for any faux pas" to a client, is it considered formal?

  • 1
    Your example usage itself would probably constitute a faux pas. The expression is normally used in social contexts (in respect of people transgressing social norms), not formal business communications. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 17:20
  • What kind of client? And can you give a situation in which you would want to use faux pas? Because it usually refers to a mistake in social etiquette, and it is not, to my knowledge, a phrase used in most professional fields.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 17:21
  • I did not even know the term itself and I was wondering if I could make use of it. As it is for social etiquette I am afraid there's little use of it. Thanks for the input
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 17:34
  • Suppose the context was a social one, would the phrase be spoken by the person who made the social mistake? I feel the phrase is used to describe or report social mistakes. What do you think?
    – learner
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 17:37
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    @learner Yes, it would not be unusual for the person who made a social blunder to say that they made or commited a faux pas. But in the US, attention to niceties of etiquette is not something one worries about on a daily basis. Perhaps only before attending or hosting an important, usually formal social event. By niceties, I mean the intricacies of prescribed etiquette in certain social circles. Most everyone wants to act in socially acceptable ways, such as how to behave on public transportation.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


To my (American) ear, "faux pas" is formal.

"Faux pas" is normally used in social situations. It can also be used in professional situations, where one is apologizing for a social mistake. (For example, if you use the title "Mister" for someone who is a "Doctor", you have probably committed a faux pas -- regardless of whether the situation is social or professional.)

It is only appropriate to use the term "faux pas" if it is reasonable to expect the term will be understood. Partly because "faux pas" is a French phrase, I do not expect all of the people I interact with to understand it.

  • It's an English word now. It was borrowed from the French phrase in the 1600s.
    – user230
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 20:25

Faux pas is not a formal word to be used in client communications.

M-W definition of FAUX PAS : [count] : an embarrassing social mistake

■Arriving too early would be a serious/major faux pas.

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