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

Completely 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

pale by comparison

To seem flawed or deficient when compared to someone or something else. All of my siblings are surgeons, so my art career always pales by comparison.
See also: comparison, pale

pale in comparison

To be or seem less important, impressive, or otherwise deficient when compared to someone or something else. The film was enjoyable, but it pales in comparison to the 1975 original. Though the issue of drug abuse is indeed serious, it pales in comparison with the threat of homelessness that is tearing the country apart.
See also: comparison, 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

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

COMMON If a person or their behaviour is beyond the pale, they are completely unacceptable. Any kind of physical aggression from your partner is beyond the pale. In those days divorced women were considered beyond the pale. Note: `Pale' comes from the Latin `palum', meaning `stake', and in English it came to refer to a territorial boundary marked by a line of stakes. The area inside was regarded as civilized, but the area beyond the pale was seen as barbaric.
See also: beyond, pale

beyond the pale

outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour.
A pale (from Latin palus meaning ‘a stake’) is a pointed wooden post used with others to form a fence; from this it came to refer to any fenced enclosure. So, in literal use, beyond the pale meant the area beyond a fence. The term Pale was applied to various territories under English control and especially to the area of Ireland under English jurisdiction before the 16th century. The earliest reference ( 1547 ) to the Pale in Ireland as such draws the contrast between the English Pale and the ‘wyld Irysh’: the area beyond the pale would have been regarded as dangerous and uncivilized by the English.
See also: beyond, pale

pale into insignificance

lose importance or value.
See also: insignificance, pale

beˌyond the ˈpale

considered socially unacceptable: Her behaviour towards her employees is completely beyond the pale. She treats them like servants.A pale was a boundary made of wooden posts or the safe area inside this. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the part of Ireland that was under English rule was called the Pale. The area outside this was beyond the Pale and considered wild and dangerous by the English.
See also: beyond, pale

ˈpale beside/next to something

,

ˈpale in/by comparison (with/to something)

,

ˈpale into insignificance

seem less important when compared with something else: Last year’s riots pale in comparison with this latest outburst of violence.
See also: beside, next, pale, something

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.