phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

Beyond the Pale

Posted by Shae on January 23, 2003

In Reply to: Beyond the Pale posted by Gary on January 23, 2003

: : : In one of your recent discussions of "trailer trash," the phrase "beyond the pale" was used. Can anyone say from whence it came?

: : : "life is too uncertain to waste on quests of vane fortune when the language is the windmill which beckons tilting..."

: : Would those vanes be the ones at the top of the windmill?

: : "Beyond the pale" means, roughly, outside the picket fence, a pale being a stake. See discussion at the Word Detective's site,
: : (link below).

: or

The Pale, in Ireland's case, was an earthen embankment rather than simply a wooden fence, and the term described both the structure and the area within. It encompassed an area much larger than just Dublin. See:

Those within the Pale spoke English and obeyed English law. Those beyond the Pale were either heathen Irish or descendants of the original Cambro-Norman settlers who, although remaining loyal to the Crown, adopted Irish laws and customs and were, therefore, outside the limits of social convention.