"beyond the pale"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Jan 2 18:25:33 UTC 2011

At 1/2/2011 11:51 AM, George Thompson wrote:
>My impression is that "beyond the pale" refers
>to the Pale of Settlement that separated the
>English from the barbaric Irish in 17th C Ireland.

You are incorrect in that "beyond the pale"
*also* refers to being outside the Russian Pale
of Settlement, from probably the late 19th
century on.  Google "Pale of Settlement" (quoted)
+ "Jews" and see the many uses.  This sense is absent from the OED.

It also refers to "The territory of Calais in
northern France when under English jurisdiction
(1347–1558)", and in fact this use in English
appears c1453, antedating by 100 years the use
with reference to Ireland (a1549), which of course is before the 17th century.

Check it out in the OED.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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