Excuse my French

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 28, 2005

In Reply to: Excuse my French posted by ESC on April 27, 2005

: : : : : When and where did the phrase "Excuse my French" originate?

: : : : "FRENCH - The prejudice that anything French is wicked, sexual, and decadent has let Frenchmen in for more than their fair share of abuse in English. Many such expressions date back to 1730-1820, the height of Anglo-French enmity, but some are current and others go back even further." From the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997).

: : : No doubt that is all true. But in my part of the backwoods, "Excuse my French" was said by someone who had just used slightly (or greatly) off-color language, and wished to apologize (slighty but not greatly) for having used coarse language by humorously pretending it was French. SS

: : : I'm with Smokey. So long and you and all your hearers can pretend that the word you uttered when you dropped the brick on your toe wasn't actually "Damn" but a French word that just happens to sound rather like it, propriety is preserved and nobody need take offence.

: The speaker who says "Excuse my French" is equating curse words -- dirty words -- with French.

And don't you just love how the French curse-"sacré bleu" and "zut, alors!" True, I did once hear a French person (a woman, actually) say "merde!"