Excuse my French


      • Apologize for using offensive or vulgar language
        Used after swearing or using profanity to acknowledge that the language may be inappropriate or offensive

      • Dismiss or downplay a statement or idea
        Used to soften the impact of a statement or idea that may be controversial or unpopular

      • Acknowledge lack of proficiency in a foreign language
        Used humorously to indicate that one's use of a foreign language may not be accurate or fluent

    Examples of Excuse my French

    • "If this project doesn't work out, I'm going to curse like a sailor and blame it on my French heritage. Excuse my French, but this just isn't fair."

      This idiom is often used to apologize for using profanity or vulgar language, suggesting that the speaker's usage of these words is a result of their French heritage or upbringing. In this example, the speaker is using the phrase "Excuse my French" to acknowledge that they may swear in the future but are currently just blaming their French heritage for their potential outburst, as a lighthearted joke.

    • "I saw her dressing gown and thought, 'Excuse my French, but why is she wearing that outside the house?'"

      This example uses the idiom in a humorous context to draw attention to a situation that is peculiar or unexpected. In this case, the speaker is expressing shock at seeing someone wearing a dressing gown outside of their home, but does so using the idiom to make the comment sound more lighthearted and amusing.

    • "Excuse my French, but I have to admit, that restaurant was an absolute disaster. The food was terrible, the service was worse, and I was sitting next to a group of loud, obnoxious people who kept singing 'Happy Birthday' to each other every five minutes. I'm pretty sure they thought I was part of their party or something."

      This example uses the idiom to preface a criticism or complaint, suggesting that the speaker may be about to share an opinion that is strong or potentially confrontational. The speaker apologizes for their choice of words in advance, acknowledging that their assessment may seem harsh but intending to highlight the extreme nature of their experience at the restaurant.

    • "In France, it's considered rude to spit in public places. Excuse my French, but I can't help but think that should be a universal rule."

      This example uses the idiom to introduce a cultural observation or commentary, suggesting that the speaker is aware that their perspective may be foreign or unfamiliar to some listeners. The speaker apologizes for any perceived cultural insensitivity but also uses the idiom to introduce a call to action, implying that the listener may want to consider adopting the French custom in question as a way of improving social etiquette or hygiene.

    • During the presentation, the CEO made a slip of the tongue and accidentally said "this product is fucked up" instead of "this product is flawed". He quickly realized his mistake and apologized, saying "Excuse my French, I meant to say flawed."

      The idiom "Excuse my French" is used when someone unintentionally says a profanity in a situation where profanity is not normally appropriate, such as in a formal setting or around children. In this example, the CEO accidentally used the strong profanity "fucked up" instead of a milder term, and then apologized for his slip of the tongue and accidentally using the profanity, acknowledging that the expression he used was in fact French slang for "extremely bad". By saying "Excuse my French", he's acknowledging that his slip-up included a French profanity, which he's asking people to forgive or excuse him for.


    The idiom "excuse my French" is used in a variety of contexts but all of its meanings have a common theme of acknowledging or apologizing for something. Whether it is profanity, a controversial statement, or a lack of language proficiency, the phrase is used to soften the impact and show humility.

    Origin of "Excuse my French"

    The origin of the idiom "excuse my French" is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in the 19th century when French was considered the language of sophistication and refinement. It was common for English speakers to use French words and phrases in their language, but they would often apologize for their pronunciation or lack of fluency.

    Over time, the phrase evolved to also include apologizing for using French words that were considered vulgar or offensive. This may have been a way for people to distance themselves from the language and its associations with high society.

    Today, the idiom is used in a more light-hearted and humorous way, often without any actual French words being spoken. It is simply a way to acknowledge that something may be inappropriate or controversial. However, it is important to also recognize the potentially problematic origins of the idiom and be mindful of its usage.