pale

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be beyond the pale

To be unacceptable or inappropriate. A "pale" is an area bounded by a fence. Disrupting my class is beyond the pale, young lady—go to the principal's office! Most people would consider stealing to be beyond the pale.
See also: beyond, pale

beyond the pale

Fig. unacceptable; outlawed. (A. pale is a barrier made of wooden stakes.) Your behavior is simply beyond the pale. Because of Tom's rudeness, he's considered beyond the pale and is never asked to parties anymore.
See also: beyond, pale

pale around the gills

 and blue around the gills; green around the gills
Fig. looking sick. (The around can be replaced with about.) John is looking a little pale around the gills. What's wrong? Oh, I feel a little green about the gills.
See also: around, gill, pale

*pale as a ghost

 and *pale as death
very pale. (*Also: as ~.) Laura came into the room, as pale as a ghost. "What happened?" her friends gasped. What's the matter? You're pale as death!
See also: ghost, pale

pale at something

to become weak, frightened, or pale from fear of something or the thought of something. Bob paled at the thought of having to drive all the way back to get the forgotten suitcase. We paled at the notion that we would always be poor.
See also: pale

pale beside someone or something

Fig. to appear to be weak or unimportant when compared to someone or something. He is competent, but he pales beside Fran. My meager effort pales beside your masterpiece.
See also: beside, pale

pale by comparison

 and pale in comparison
Fig. to appear to be deficient in comparison to something else. My work pales by comparison with yours. You are a real pro.
See also: comparison, pale

pale in comparison (with something)

also pale by comparison (with something)
to seem lacking in importance or quality than something else I thought I had a frightening accident, but mine pales in comparison with yours.
See also: comparison, pale

beyond the pale

not acceptable to most people For most people, a discussion like this has been simply beyond the pale.
Etymology: based on a past meaning of pale (an area in Ireland, Scotland, or France controlled by England), and the idea that places outside this area were dangerous for the English
See also: beyond, pale

fade/pale into insignificance

if something pales into insignificance, it does not seem at all important when compared to something else When your child's ill, everything else pales into insignificance. With the outbreak of war all else fades into insignificance.
See also: fade

be beyond the pale

if someone's behaviour is beyond the pale, it is not acceptable Her recent conduct is beyond the pale.
See also: beyond, pale

pale by/in comparison

to seem less serious or less important when compared with something else (often + with ) I thought I was badly treated but my experiences pale in comparison with yours.
See fade into insignificance
See also: comparison, pale

beyond the pale

Outside the bounds of morality, good behavior or judgment; unacceptable. For example, She thought taking the boys to a topless show was beyond the pale. The noun pale, from the Latin palum, meant "a stake for fences" or "a fence made from such stakes." By extension it came to be used for an area confined by a fence and for any boundary, limit, or restriction, both of these meanings dating from the late 1300s. The pale referred to in the idiom is usually taken to mean the English Pale, the part of Ireland under English rule, and therefore, as perceived by its rulers, within the bounds of civilization.
See also: beyond, pale

beyond the pale

Irrevocably unacceptable or unreasonable: behavior that was quite beyond the pale.
See also: beyond, pale

beyond the pale

A pale, originally a stockade made of pales of wood, was an area under the authority of a certain official. In the 14th and 15th centuries the British ruled Dublin, the surrounding area was outside the law. Anyone or anything beyond the pale was considered savage and dangerous, and the express came to mean anything unacceptable or beyond the limits of accepted morality or conduct.
See also: beyond, pale
References in classic literature ?
Martin's face, flushed at first, paled as he read on.
As the east paled with the first light of dawn we got under way again, and hauled close on the land breeze as we slanted across the bay toward Point Pedro.
Back and shoulders were a warm brown that paled on the sides and underneath to a yellow that was dingy because of the brown that lingered in it.
Just as the sky paled with the first warning of dawn, I heard the signal from above and gave the answer.
But all the field afternoons and recitation Fridays and physical culture contortions paled before a project which Miss Stacy brought forward in November.
Between December 1917 and February 1918, the cold of winter and desperate shortages of food paled in comparison to the looming threat of a full-scale pogrom.