Today on Grammar Girl, we’re doing something new. We’re giving you a quiz.
It’s about the phrase beyond the pale.
You may know that beyond the pale describes something outside the limits of acceptable behavior.
For example, wearing a see-through dress to a wedding might be beyond the pale. Or tossing your used coffee cup onto the sidewalk. Both behaviors are outside the bounds of morality and plain ol’ good judgement.
Here’s the quiz. Do you think beyond the pale has to do with color? Perhaps it alludes to increasingly pale shades of morality … or mysterious activities that occur after the setting of a pale moon?
Or do you think it has to do with sticks?