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conversation piece

any object that arouses comment because of some striking or unusual quality.
group portraiture representing more or less fashionable people either in an interior or landscape setting.
a play that relies for its effect mainly on the cleverness of its dialogue rather than on plot or action.
Origin of conversation piece
First recorded in 1775-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for conversation piece
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Historical Examples
  • He indignantly refused to make a bid for the “conversation piece” ascribed to Hogarth.

    Hogarth C. Lewis Hind
British Dictionary definitions for conversation piece

conversation piece

something, esp an unusual object, that provokes conversation
(esp in 18th-century Britain) a group portrait in a landscape or domestic setting
a play emphasizing dialogue
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Idioms and Phrases with conversation piece

conversation piece

An unusual object that arouses comment or interest, as in That bust of Aunt Nettie is ugly but it's an excellent conversation piece. In the early 1700s this same term was used for a particular kind of painting that represented a group, often a family, arranged as though they were conversing with one another. Later in the century the term was extended to any object that stimulates conversation.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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