The phrase is uttered in an attempt to excuse the user of profanity, swearing, or curses in the presence of those offended by it, under the pretense of the words being part of a foreign language. In other words, it can be and usually is used as a very effective oral English device to indicate that the speaker does not intend to escalate the general level of profanity use. At least one source  suggests that the phrase "derives from a literal usage of the exclamation. In the 19th century, when English people used French expressions in conversation they often apologized for it - presumably because many of their listeners then as now wouldn't be familiar with the language". The definition cites an example from The Lady's Magazine , .
A coy phrase used when someone who has used a swear-word attempts to pass it off as French. The coyness comes from the fact the both the speaker and listener are of course both well aware the swear-word is indeed English. This usage is mid 20th century English in origin. The precise phrase comes just a few years later in S. Tract IV. Every country has neighbours they like to look down on.
Top definition. Pardon my French unknown. The origin of this phrase Which means excuse my use of profanity does not originate for the French word for seal, as Lazy Time Waster suggests. It in fact originates from the constant warfare between England and France many years ago, at that time "French" was associated with indecent things and activies Swearing, kissing etc.
Often an idiom —an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its parts—can seem like something from Alice in Wonderland. Pardon my French , or excuse my French , is an apology for the use of profanity; the expression dates from One explanation suggests that during the 19th century, the English often used French words in conversation—a foreign language to most people living in England at the time.