Beyond The Pale

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Beyond The Pale : Phrases


Socially unacceptable or outside agreed standards of decency.


Bush's handling of the Iraq invasion was
beyond the pale for some of the American population.


pale derives from Latin palus, meaning a pole or stake. Fences (walls) are erected to define boundaries. To be beyond the pale implies that one is outside of defined boundaries. In the days when walled cities were common in Europe people who behaved unacceptably were sometimes exiled or banished from the community and sent to live outside the walls.

The pale was a fence around the English controlled part of Ireland around Dublin. Those who lived beyond the pale were outside English jurisdiction and were thought to be uncivilized.

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