Beyond the pale

Explanation: What is an idiom?

Unacceptable behaviour, outside normal acceptable standards of behaviour.


"I'm going to court next week."

"Oh, so they've finally caught up with you then?"


"That night when you got so drunk you ended up-"

"No! Our neighbours have been up to their tricks again."

"Oh no, not the Furies?"


"What have they done now?"

"Well, you know they had these wild parties until 5.00 in the morning."

"Sounds great!"

"Yeah, well they never invited me to them! Anyway, after I complained, they started encouraging their dog to do his business in our front lawn."

"In Beryl's petunias?"

"Exactly. Well, the last straw came when I came home last night and found that he had cut down the tree in our back garden."

"How had he done that?"

"Well, a couple of branches went over the fence into this garden, but instead of just cutting them down, he leaned obver the fence with his chainsaw and sawed the whole trunk off. It then fell into our greenhouse, smashing it all up."

"Oh , bloody hell. Well, that's beyond the pale isn't it?"

"These people are dangerous, believe me. Well, we called the police and the court hearing's next week."

"Well, at least you're safe with me. Let me get you a drink."


The 'pale' used to be used to mean a fence or wall surrounding a city. When the English controlled part of Dublin, now the capital of the Republic of Ireland, they put up a fence round the part of the city they controlled, called the 'pale'. The people who were outside or beyond the pale were the untrustworthy people they wanted to remain cut off from.

Category: b

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