Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.


It's hard to get a good whiff of your own breath, so if someone close to you doesn't smell a problem, it may fall to you to break the awkward news.

If somebody on your neighborhood bus has a booming, not-to-be-ignored voice, it's best to just leave it alone. But what do you do if that same voice thunders around your transatlantic flight?

Not speaking up when witnessing racism sends a message that racism is OK — and even that you agree with it. Here are some tips for confronting racist language.

Near the top of the lifetime list of minor humiliations suffered in public: the unzipped fly. Here's how to tell someone what you wish someone had told you.

During a 2010 town hall meeting, a moderator asked Hillary Clinton which clothing designers she preferred. Her response? "Would you ever ask a man that?"

If your blind date just won't stop droning on, it's probably best to just let it go. But when someone's nonstop talking is affecting your workplace, that's another matter.

Virtually everyone on Earth is operating under a set of prejudiced beliefs, whether they know it or not. Yes, even you. So what do you do when that prejudice reveals itself?

The times, they are most certainly a changin'. With the rise of the Internet and smartphones, etiquette -- both personal and professional -- isn't quite what it once was.

Sure, a banana-shaped hat shows off your humorous side, but should you wear it on a first date? Or even make it a profile pic on your online dating profile? In the world of dating, etiquette questions abound!

We tend to think of etiquette rules as stuffy Victorian-era holdovers. Plenty of guidelines, however, not only help society run smoothly — they keep its members healthy!

We've all seen that guy. You know, the one screaming out song requests, heckling the band and shoving his way through the crowd. He's the worst! Luckily, he can get his act together by following the 10 commandments of concertgoing.

We've all had a boss who didn't act very boss-like. While you're busy hustling, he's busy breaking every etiquette rule in the book. Wouldn't it be nice if your boss got some office savoir faire? Here's a start.

Etiquette experts agree: Kids should refer to grown-ups as Mr., Mrs. or the like. But shouldn't it matter what the grown-up thinks?

Can't stomach the idea of turning up at a birthday bash empty-handed? If you've been asked to skip the present, kindly consider everyone's feelings.

It depends on your standards — how do you feel about sidewalk spitting? But a few nations have earned high marks for ease of getting along.

Is the lady at home? Indisposed, you say? Take my calling card, and I'll return to my mansion to await her prompt response.

The queen's marriage got a revealing start — perhaps signaling worse to come. What caused the diamond-studded wardrobe malfunction on the dauphine's big day?

It used to be considered tacky to wear white for your second wedding or to throw your own birthday party. While these things are now thankfully OK, other customs — like promptly RSVPing and not bragging about money — need to be revived.

Addressing questions about rudeness, social protocol and etiquette has a long history, with many contributors — but did women invent etiquette?

Unfortunately, other people's ballots are none of your business. And in some situations, asking about them is not only tacky — it's illegal.

In an era of strict social rules, dance cards let gentlemen "claim" ladies for their turn on the floor.

Tempted to try to avoid a big talk about your feelings? Breaking up with someone in public is inconsiderate — and could lead to a messier scene than you ever imagined. But is it rude?

Grain-free, sugar-free, manners-free? While some dietary restrictions are necessary, others risk placing an unreasonable burden on mealtime hosts.

Do you regularly post pictures of your dinner? Update the world on your daily workout? Write cryptic messages guaranteed to elicit sympathy? You, my friend, need a refresher course in Facebook etiquette.

The Victorians were many things, but simple and straightforward in their social dealings they were not. While their rules for behavior might strike us as odd today, those wacky ways formed the backbone of Victorian society.