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You give me pause

Posted by R. Berg on July 21, 2007

In Reply to: You give me pause posted by Scott on July 19, 2007

: : : A friend of mine said to me recently, "You give me pause." I'm not entirely sure what she meant by this, and I was wondering if you could help with the meaning and origin of the phrase.

: : I can't help with the origin, Brian, but I've always understood something that 'gives you pause' causes you to reconsider the matter at hand; perhaps to look at things from a different perspective. You won't necessarily change your mind but you'll defer any conclusions you might have reached or any action you might have taken.

: I agree. I think it's a shortening of 'pause for thought' as in 'hmmm... that's given me pause for thought' (that's given me something to think about).

"Pause for thought" is right. The Oxford English Dictionary's word of the day happens to be "pause." Here's a snippet from the online page: "

P1. to take pause: to stop or hesitate, esp. for further or more careful thought. to give (a) pause (usu. with to or indirect object): to cause to stop or hesitate, esp. for further or more careful thought; to cause to doubt; freq. in to give (also leave, take, etc.) pause for thought. Also to put to a pause (obs.).