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bad excuse is better than none

Prov. If you offer some explanation for an unwanted action, there is a slight chance that it will be accepted and you will therefore not be in trouble, but if you have no explanation at all, you do not even have that slight chance. Fred: I can't believe we played cards till midnight! What will I tell my wife when she asks why I'm so late getting home? Bill: Tell her something came up at the office. Fred: But that's a lousy excuse. She'll never believe it. Bill: A bad excuse is better than none.
See also: bad, better, excuse, none

Could I be excused?

Would you give me permission to leave?; Would you give me permission to leave the table? (Also used with can or may in place of could.) Bill: I'm finished, Mom. Could I be excused? Mother: Yes, of course, when you use good manners like that.
See also: could

Could you excuse us, please?

 and Can you excuse us, please?; Would you excuse us, please?; Will you excuse us, please?
We must leave. I hope you will forgive us. (A polite way of announcing a departure.) Bill: Could you excuse us, please? We simply must rush off. Alice: So sorry you have to go. Come back when you can stay longer.
See also: could, excuse

Excuse me.

 and Excuse, please.; Pardon (me).; 'Scusc (me).; 'Scusc, please. 
1. an expression asking forgiveness for some minor social violation, such as belching or bumping into someone. ('Scuse is colloquial, and the apostrophe is not always used.) John: Ouch! Bob: Excuse me. I didn't see you there. Mary: Oh! Ow! Sue: Pardon me. I didn't mean to bump into you. Tom: Ouch! Mary: Oh, dear! What happened? Tom: You stepped on my toe. Mary: Excuse me. I'm sorry.
2. Please let me through.; Please let me by. Tom: Excuse me. I need to get past. Bob: Oh, sorry. I didn't know I was in the way. Mary: Pardon me. Sue: What? Mary: Pardon me. I want to get past you.
See also: excuse

excuse someone

1. . to forgive someone. (Usually with me. Said when interrupting or when some other minor offense has been committed. There are many mannerly uses of this expression.) John came in late and said, "Excuse me, please." John said "excuse me" when he interrupted our conversation. When John made a strange noise at the table, he said quietly, "Excuse me." John suddenly left the room saying, "Excuse me. I'll be right back."
2. to permit someone to leave; to permit someone to remain away from an event. The coach excused John from practice yesterday. The teacher excused John, and he ran quickly from the room.

excuse someone for something

to pardon someone for something or for (doing) something. Please excuse me for this mess. I've not been able to clean the house. I can't excuse myself for not doing it.
See also: excuse

excuse someone from something

to permit a person not to do something; to exempt someone from something. Please excuse me from attending the meeting. I must excuse myself from the discussion.
See also: excuse

He who excuses himself accuses himself.

Prov. By apologizing for something, you admit that you did it. Maybe I should tell my boss I'm sorry for breaking the copy machine. On the other hand, he who excuses himself accuses himself.
See also: accuse, excuse, he, himself, who

Ignorance (of the law) is no excuse (for breaking it).

Prov. Even if you do not know that something is against the law, you can still be punished for doing it. (An ancient legal principle.) Police officer: I'm giving you a speeding ticket. Motorist: But I didn't know I was exceeding the speed limit! Police officer: Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Terry protested that he didn't know it was illegal to break the windows of an abandoned building, but the judge informed him that ignorance of the law was no excuse.
See also: excuse, ignorance

May I be excused?

May I leave this place, please?; May I leave to use the toilet? Nature calls. May I be excused? The student raised her hand and said, "Teacher, may I be excused?"
See also: may

Pardon my French,

 and Excuse my French.
Inf. Excuse my use of swear words or taboo words. (Does not refer to real French.) Pardon my French, but this is a hell of a day. What she needs is a kick in the ass, if you'll excuse my French.
See also: french, pardon

use someone or something as an excuse

to blame someone or something (for a failure). (See also use someone or something as something.) John used his old car as an excuse for not going to the meeting. My husband was sick in bed, and I used him as an excuse.
See also: excuse, use

Would you excuse me?

1. a polite question that essentially announces one's departure. (Compare this with Could I be excused?; Excuse me.) Jane: Would you excuse me? I have to get home now. Andy: Oh, sure. I'll see you to the door. Rising to leave, Jane said, "Would you excuse me?" and left by the rear door.
2. . a polite way to request passage through or by a group of people; a way to request space to exit an elevator. There were two people talking in the corridor, blocking it. Tom said, "Would you excuse me?" They stepped aside. Fred: Would you excuse me? This is my floor. Sally: Sure. It's mine, too.
See also: excuse

You're excused.

1. You may leave the room, the table, etc. (Said in response to May I be excused?) Mother: Are you finished, Tom? Tom: Yes, ma'am. Mother: You're excused. Bill (raising his hand): Can I leave the room? I have to go get my books off my bike. Teacher: You're excused. Bill: Thanks.
2. You must leave the room or the premises. (Typically said at the end of a scolding.) Father: I've heard quite enough of this nonsense, Tom. You're excused. Tom: Sorry. Andy: That is the end of this conversation. You're excused. Bob: But, there's more.
3. You are forgiven for belching or for some other breach of strict etiquette. (Said in response to Excuse me.) Tom (after belching): Excuse me. Father: You're excused. Sally: Excuse me for being so noisy. Mother: You're excused.
See also: excuse

excuse me

1. I am sorry to interrupt you Oh, excuse me, I didn't know you were busy.
2. that was not what I intended to say or do As a kid growing up, my family grew strawberries, excuse me, grew tomatoes.
3. I did not hear you Which office do you work in? Excuse me?
Related vocabulary: pardon me
See also: excuse

excuse me

1. Also, I beg your pardon, pardon me. Forgive me, as in Excuse me, please let me pass, or Pardon me for asking, or I beg your pardon, I don't think so. These phrases are used as an apology for interrupting a conversation, bumping into someone, asking a speaker to repeat something, politely disagreeing with something said, and so on. The first dates from about 1600, the first variant from about 1800, the second from the mid-1700s.
2. Also, excuse oneself. Allow or ask to leave or be released from an obligation. For example, Please excuse me, I have to leave now, or I asked the judge to excuse me from jury duty. [1920s]
See also: excuse

Pardon my French

and Excuse my French
sent. Excuse my use of swear words or taboo words.; Excuse my choice of vocabulary. (Does not refer to real French.) What she needs is a kick in the butt, if you’ll excuse my French.
See also: french, pardon

Excuse my French

See also: excuse, french

(Well,) pardon me for living!

and Excuse me for breathing! and Excuse me for living!
tv. I am SOOO sorry! (A very sarcastic response to a rebuke, seeming to regret the apparent offense of even living.) A: You are blocking my view. Please move. B: Well, pardon me for living! You say you were here first? Well excuse me for breathing!
See also: pardon

Excuse me for breathing!

See also: excuse

Excuse me for living!

See also: excuse

Excuse me

1. Used to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for an action that could cause offense.
2. Used to request that a statement be repeated.
See also: excuse

pardon my French

Please excuse my language. In the days when language propriety was more of an issue than it is now, using a word or phrase that was “unfit for mixed company” was likely to lead to embarrassment. Since French was considered a racy language, people excused themselves with “pardon my French.”
See also: french, pardon
References in classic literature ?
She found one excuse after another, and when, finally, Lord Tennington invited the party to cruise around Africa in his yacht, she expressed the greatest delight in the idea, but absolutely refused to be married until they had returned to London.
Hardyman's invitations were in some cases refused; and in others accepted by husbands with excuses for the absence of their wives.
In England alone, the incomprehensible and discourteous custom prevails of keeping the host and the dinner waiting for half an hour or more--without any assignable reason and without any better excuse than the purely formal apology that is implied in the words, "Sorry to be late.
So with this excuse she ran down the hill and jumped over the first of the six little brooks.
You will, I am sure, excuse me for a few moments, Mr.
But this is no excuse for their concealing it from us.
Julia felt uncomfortable--she felt herself to be de trop; and making an incoherent excuse, she had scarcely taken a seat on a sofa, before she arose, left the room, and ran up stairs again.
You must excuse me, indeed you must excuse me," cried Fanny, growing more and more red from excessive agitation, and looking distressfully at Edmund, who was kindly observing her; but unwilling to exasperate his brother by interference, gave her only an encouraging smile.
Excuse me for saying so, but you have no sense about women.
you'll excuse me, sir) I hear nothing of another dinner to come.
A CAT caught a Cock, and pondered how he might find a reasonable excuse for eating him.
While humanity is humanity, the woman is not utterly without excuse.
Though her countenance did not denote much natural sweetness of temper, yet this was, perhaps, somewhat soured by a circumstance which generally poisons matrimonial felicity; for children are rightly called the pledges of love; and her husband, though they had been married nine years, had given her no such pledges; a default for which he had no excuse, either from age or health, being not yet thirty years old, and what they call a jolly brisk young man.
What excuse can she possibly have for changing her mind about a man whom she had virtually accepted for her husband more than two years ago?
himself said frequently that although well educated in the neighbourhood of Blackheath at as high as eighty guineas which is a good deal for parents and the plate kept back too on going away but that is more a meanness than its value that he had learnt more in his first years as a commercial traveller with a large commission on the sale of an article that nobody would hear of much less buy which preceded the wine trade a long time than in the whole six years in that academy conducted by a college Bachelor, though why a Bachelor more clever than a married man I do not see and never did but pray excuse me that is not the point.