Forgive them for they know not what they do


      • offer forgiveness
        Expressing mercy and understanding towards someone who has wronged or offended you, despite their lack of knowledge or awareness of their actions

      • show grace
        Showing compassion and leniency towards someone who has made a mistake or caused harm, acknowledging that they may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions

      • excuse behavior
        Pardoning someone for their actions and not holding it against them, recognizing that they may not have been fully aware of the impact of their actions

    Examples of Forgive them for they know not what they do

    • John's outburst in the meeting was uncalled for, but when his boss reprimanded him, John hung his head and muttered, "Forgive me, I didn't realize how my actions would affect the team."

      This is an example of using the idiom at the end of a sentence. It implies that John genuinely didn't understand the consequences of his actions and is asking for forgiveness for his ignorance.

    • Nina was frustrated with her son's constant misbehavior, but as she sternly corrected him, she caught sight of his innocent face and remorseful eyes. She felt a twinge of pity and whispered, "Forgive him, for he knows not what he does."

      This example is more emotive. It shows Nina's change of heart as she realizes her son's ignorance and decides to show compassion instead of anger.

    • As the judge handed down a sentence, the accused looked up with a confused expression. His lawyer leaned over and whispered, "Your Honor, I do believe my client understands the gravity of his actions, but I want to ask for leniency on his behalf. Forgive him, for he knows not what he does."

      This example depicts a legal setting, where the lawyer intercedes on his client's behalf, explaining that his client's ignorance should be taken into account while passing judgment.

    • The platoon leader watched in dismay as a recruit stumbled in his first training drill. The bewildered and embarrassed soldier hung his head in shame. The leader rolled his eyes and muttered, "Forgive him, for he knows not what he does," before barking out new instructions.

      This is an example of the idiom being used in an informal and sarcastic context. The leader's use of the idiom is meant to convey his patience with the recruit, but also his frustration at having to repeat the same instructions multiple times.

    • The teenager who just caused a fender bender on the highway may have been distracted or inexperienced, so we should forgive them for they know not what they do when it comes to driving.

      This idiom refers to the idea that people who make mistakes or cause harm may not have understood the consequences of their actions at the time. It suggests that we should extend forgiveness and compassion to them, rather than judgment or condemnation. In this example, the idiom is being used to describe a situation in which a novice driver may not have fully appreciated the risks involved in driving, resulting in an accident. By invoking the idiom, the speaker is saying that the other driver deserves to be treated with understanding and mercy, rather than blame or hardship.


    The idiom "forgive them for they know not what they do" is often used to express the act of offering forgiveness, showing grace, or excusing behavior. It highlights the idea that people may make mistakes or cause harm without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. This phrase is often used in a religious or moral context, emphasizing the importance of showing mercy and understanding towards others.

    Origin of "Forgive them for they know not what they do"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the Bible, specifically in the New Testament in the book of Luke. In this passage, Jesus is being crucified and he says, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." This statement is seen as a powerful example of forgiveness and mercy, even towards those who have wronged us.

    The phrase has since been used in various forms, including "forgive them for they know not what they do," "forgive them, they know not what they do," and "forgive them, for they know not what they do." It has become a popular saying in modern times, often used to express the idea of showing compassion and understanding towards others, even if they have caused harm. It is a reminder to not hold grudges and to offer forgiveness to those who may not fully understand their actions.