Beg off

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Beg off is an idiom that has been in use for several hundred years. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the phrase beg off, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To beg off means to ask to be excused from something, to ask to be released from an obligation. In truth, beg off is a request to not think ill of the person who is reneging on a promise. Related terms are begs off, begged off, begging off. The idiom beg off came into use in the early 1700s, as an overly polite way of expressing the desire to be released from an obligation.


After 20 more minutes of pleasant conversation, I thank her and beg off, needing to pick up my kids from the train station. (The Post-Bulletin)

And the friendlier tile-based interface that eventually emerged—and which as a reviewer I liked, though not enough to beg off iOS or Android —came too late to generate any kind of meaningful turnaround. (USA Today)

But less than a full day after the startup of the new service, reports J-Cast News (June 30), the operator was flooded with spurious requests and had to beg off accepting new applicants. (Japan Today)

The one that was often read to our children was “The Little Engine That Could” — the story of an engine successfully pulling a train up a mountain where larger engines begged off, all the while repeating the always hopeful chant, “I think I can, I think I can.” (The Chicago Tribune)