AskDefine | Define interlocutor

Dictionary Definition



1 the performer in the middle of a minstrel line who engages the others in talk [syn: middleman]
2 a person who takes part in a conversation [syn: conversational partner]

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin interloqui to speak between, issue an interlocutory decree, from inter- + loqui to speak




  1. A person who takes part in dialogue or conversation.
    • 1894, Calvin Thomas, "The Teacher's Outfit in German," The School Review, vol. 2, no. 7, p. 406,
      Explanations which continually remind one's interlocutor of one's ignorance are a great damper upon the easy flow of talk.
  2. A man in the middle of the line in a minstrel show who questions the end men and acts as leader.
    • 1991, Maureen Costonis, "Martha Graham's American Document: A Minstrel Show in Modern Dance Dress," American Music, vol. 9, no. 3, p. 299,
      The "interlocutor" greeted the audience and engaged in comical repartee with the "end men," named Tambo and Bones.
  3. In the context of "Scotland|Law": A decree of a court.
    • 1869, "The Judicial System of Scotland," The American Law Register (1852-1891), vol. 17, no. 5, p. 257,
      A decree of the English Court of Chancery is not entitled to more respect in Scotland than a decree (interlocutor) of the Scottish Court of Session in England.


A person who takes part in dialogue or conversation
A man in the middle of the line in a minstrel show
A decree of a court

Extensive Definition

In colloquial use, an interlocutor (IPA: /ɪntɚlɑkjutɚ/) is simply someone taking part in a conversation.
The term also has several other specialized uses:
  • In politics, it describes someone who informally explains the views of a government and also can relay messages back to a government. Unlike a spokesperson, an interlocutor often has no formal position within a government or any formal authority to speak on its behalf, and even when he does, everything an interlocutor says is his own personal opinion and not the official view of anyone. Because an interlocutor does not express an official view, communications between interlocutors are often useful at conveying information and ideas. Often interlocutors will talk with each other before formal negotiations. Interlocutors play an extremely important role in Sino-American relations.
  • In music, it was the term for the master of ceremonies in a minstrel show. A blackface character, like the other performers, the interlocutor nonetheless had a somewhat aristocratic demeanor, a "codfish aristocrat".
  • It is also the name given in Scots law to the formal order of the court.


interlocutor in French: Locuteur
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