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Pardon my French and excuse my French

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  • Pardon my French and excuse my French are idioms with their origins in the early 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of pardon my French and excuse my French, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

    Pardon my French and excuse my French are phrases that are used to apologize for uttering a swear word. Occasionally, pardon my French and excuse my French are used humorously to acknowledge the use of hard-to-understand words or seeming gibberish. The terms pardon my French and excuse my French originated around the 1830s to literally beg someone’s pardon for using a French phrase. Soon, the term evolved into an apology for using swear words. At the time, there was great enmity between the French and the English, owing to the Napoleonic Wars earlier in the 1800s. At one time, the idioms pardon my French and excuse my French were considered insulting to the French, but only the most sensitive would consider them insults today.

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    Examples

    Well, pardon me young man, excuse the s**t out of my goddamn French, but did you just threaten me? (TV Guide)

    If I’m out in public if I am gonna randomly start—pardon my French—talking s— to people? No. (Sports Illustrated Magazine)

    Sometimes you can be doing your job well, with respect for others and for truth, unbowed by those who strong-arm you to do otherwise, and — pardon my French — get screwed over anyway. (The Chicago Tribune)

    Governor, the people in this complex (and those that utilize our services) pay, excuse my French, a s— load of taxes. (The Delaware County Daily Times)

     

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