"Beyond the Pale"

Robin   Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:58 pm GMT
"Beyond the Pale" What does this expression mean?

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, dated 1837: “I look upon you, sir, as a man who has placed himself beyond the pale of society, by his most audacious, disgraceful, and abominable public conduct”.
Fredrik from Norway   Fri Oct 13, 2006 12:35 pm GMT
Beyond the civilized world, i.e. originally Ireland outside the Dublin region during English rule in the Middle Ages.
Robin   Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:42 am GMT
Is 'Pale' anything to do with 'pole' and 'poland'?

Just trying to stir things up a bit!
Impurethinker   Sun Oct 15, 2006 3:52 pm GMT
After a quick bit of www alacrity I have discovered what you are looking for. Basically Fredrik from Norway has it kind of right. "Pale" in this case refers to a pointy stick used to mark a boundry or border. I has the same Latin root as the word impale and pole actually-- palus meaning stake. If something is beyond the pale it is beyond the borders of <something>. Fredrik is indeed right about his usage of beyond the pale in regards to Dublin in the Middle Ages but this isn't the actually orgin.

Honestly the only time I have see this expression is in fantasy stories about creatures,e.g., demons from 'beyond the pale' meaning from beyond the normal universe.

And the sources:
Damian in London N2   Sun Oct 15, 2006 4:37 pm GMT
In ordinary everyday English for something to be considered "beyond the pale" is to mean it's well outside the "normal" levels of social acceptability or the standard limits of convention.