Pardon my French

The phrase "pardon my French" is uttered or written when somebody is about to use profanity to a crowd.

I have just read the above phrase again today while reading a newspaper article. It is not the first time and I have always presumed to understand it well. I did observe the use of obscene words before or after the phrase is said.

Although correct with my observation, I don't know the reason involving the French. I did a Google search as to the origin of the phrase and found several interesting answers, all related.

Here is the answer I chose (source: Yahoo Answers), which seems to me sums up the best description as to the origin of the phrase:

This phrase, in which French refers to "bad language", is employed when the speaker feels compelled to use an obscenity despite having listeners who might be offended. It's a late 19th century euphemism which first appeared in Harper's Magazine in 1895.

It is thought that the term French is employed in this sense as it
already had a history of association with things considered vulgar.

As far back as the early 16th century, French pox and the French disease were synonyms for genital herpes, and French-sick was another term for syphillis. The OED [Oxford English Dictionary] also equates the adjective French with "spiciness", as in French letter for "condom", French kiss (1923) and French (i.e. "sexually explicit") novels (from 1749).

1 comment:

  1. in a way, it's really like being prejudiced to the french, but hey! they have no problem with it! haha! in fact, they're known for being maldita err brutally frank heheh

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