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Thread: Beyond the pale

  1. #1
    asadok is offline Newbie
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    Default Beyond the pale

    Just worked this one out-
    'Beyond the pale' means completely outside what a person or group thinks is acceptable to to say, think or do.
    The origin of the idiom is easy to understand if you know that a pale is another word for a bucket, and would be used to lift water from a well. The phrase comes from the idea that the water is out of reach of the bucket- just like an idea can be out of reach for some people.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    Are you sure that you are an English teacher as you claim? The word with a similar meaning to 'bucket' is 'pail', not 'pale', and your explanation of the meaning of 'beyond the pale' is not too accurate.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    "A pale" or "paling" is a boundary. "Beyond the pale" means "outside the boundary".

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    I have read that the pale was a reference to Ireland- the Pale of Dublin mentioned in the link above.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I have read that the pale was a reference to Ireland- the Pale of Dublin mentioned in the link above.
    "An Pháil Sheasanach" "The Saxon (English) Pale" was the area subjected to English rule in Ireland in the 16th century. It extended from Co. Louth, north of Dublin, to Co. Kildare to the south, and into parts of Co. Offaly to the west.

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    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "An Pháil Sheasanach" "The Saxon (English) Pale" was the area subjected to English rule in Ireland in the 16th century. It extended from Co. Louth, north of Dublin, to Co. Kildare to the south, and into parts of Co. Offaly to the west.
    Do you know whether "páil" is just an irishized form of "pale" or an earlier borrowing from Latin?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Do you know whether "páil" is just an irishized form of "pale" or an earlier borrowing from Latin?
    I'm not sure, but I think it's direct from Latin.
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 19-May-2012 at 06:43.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    'Beyond the pale' means outside the limits of acceptable behavior. 'beyond the pale' and 'beyond the pail' the phrase has nothing to do with buckets.The adjective meaning of word 'pale' is whitish and light in colour and the noun meaning of word 'pale' is a stake or pointed piece of wood.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Beyond the pale

    Quote Originally Posted by davidaleman View Post
    'beyond the pale' and certainly not 'beyond the pail' the phrase has nothing to do with buckets.The adjective meaning of the word 'pale' is whitish and light in colour and the noun meaning of thr word 'pale' is a stake or pointed piece of wood.
    Welcome to the forum, davidaleman.

    If you are going to use words from another source, in this case the link provided by Barb, please
    either quote them directly, and credit your source, or make sure that you paraphrase accurately - and still credit the source.

    Original: "It's 'beyond the pale', and certainly not 'beyond the pail' - the phrase has nothing to do with buckets. The everyday use of the word 'pale' is as an adjective meaning whitish and light in colour (and used to that effect by Procol Harum and in countless paint adverts). This 'pale' is the noun meaning 'a stake or pointed piece of wood'". Beyond the pale

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