Often an idiom is cited as “an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its parts.” One of the most colorful such idioms combines the profane with a language associated with love.

“Pardon my French,” or “excuse my French,” is an apology for the use of profanity; the expression dates from 1895. “Pardon” is derived from the old French pardoner meaning, “to grant, forgive.”

So why not “Pardon my German” or “Excuse my Mandarin?” One explanation suggests that during the 19th century, the English often used French words in conversation – a foreign language to most people living in England at the time. Realizing the listener may not have understood, the speaker would apologize by saying, “Pardon my French.”

Why then did the phrase become associated with profanity? That’s an enigma.

Perhaps your collective knowledge can provide some insight.

What do you think is the reason? Let us know.