Present company excepted is a phrase used when one makes a rude, overly general or critical remark to indicate that the rude, overly general or critical remark is not directed at the people currently in one’s presence. In essence, present company excepted describes making an exception to one’s statement, to exclude the present people from one’s rude, overly general or critical remark. Present company excepted first appears in the latter 1700s.
Present company accepted is a mondegreen, which is a phrase or lyric derived from the mishearing of the correct phrase or lyric. Present company accepted is always incorrect, as it means the exact opposite of the original phrase, present company excepted.
For most of that time most of our Respected and Supreme Leaders, present company excepted of course, probably assumed segregation came from the Bible. (The Dallas Observer)
You abuse your parents, and in turn your children abuse you. Present company excepted, mum. (The Independent)
People, present company excepted, are crazy about animal cams. (The Wall Street Journal)
Therefore our psychological phenotypes are ‘massively modular’; therefore there is no such thing as the mind or the self; and (present company excepted) we are all self-deluding hypocrites. (The London Review of Books)
Maybe it was by a girl slightly better looking than most of the critics out there are used to, present company excepted. (The San Francisco Chronicle)
The unexplained virus that has leveled humanity, present company excepted, has also seemingly carted off the bodies and left the place tidy for the aliens. (The Los Angeles Times)
“That indicates to me that the community as a whole, present company excepted, is in favor of reopening the hospital,” Thomas said. (The Press Democrat)