Far Be It From Me: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
June 21, 2023

The idiom "Far Be It From Me" is an expression used to denote humility, distance, or denial of responsibility or authority over a suggested action or idea. It's a way of saying that one doesn't want to interfere or impose one's opinions or beliefs on others, especially when it comes to making decisions or taking action. This phrase is often used to preface a statement or opinion that might otherwise seem controversial, intrusive, or unwelcome.

In short:

"Far Be It From Me" is an idiomatic phrase used to express modesty, non-interference, or non-responsibility in a matter.

What Does "Far Be It From Me" Mean?

Let's dive into the details of what this idiom truly signifies. This phrase is an instance of understatement or modesty. When someone uses the idiom "Far Be It From Me," they're essentially saying that it's not their place to comment, interfere, or decide about the issue.

  • The phrase may also be used to indicate the speaker's surprise or disbelief about a certain situation or outcome.
  • The speaker might use it to distance themselves from an idea or action, especially if it is controversial or unwelcome.
  • It also shows respect for others' autonomy and decision-making authority.

These different facets provide a nuanced understanding of the idiom's usage and meaning in various contexts.

Where Does "Far Be It From Me" Come From?

The origin of the idiom "Far Be It From Me" can be traced back to ancient times. It has been a part of English language usage for centuries, often found in biblical texts. The phrase has maintained its usage and significance throughout the years in various works of literature. One of the earliest instances in English literature is from the works of John Wycliffe in the late 14th century.

Historical Example

"And Saul said, Far be it from me; for I will not stretch forth mine hand against my lord, for he [is] the LORD's anointed." 

- 1 Samuel 26:23, King James Bible.

"And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but today. Now, therefore, bless me, my son. Far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way."

-1 Samuel 12:23, King James Version

"Far be it from me to not believe, even for an instant, in the ultimate fulfillment of all Thy promises." 

-From the works of John Wycliffe

10 Examples of "Far Be It From Me" in Sentences

Observe how this idiom can be flexibly used in a variety of sentences:

  • Far be it from me to judge someone's actions without understanding their perspective. Till we meet again, let's strive for empathy and open-mindedness.
  • He said, Far be it from me to tell you what to do, but there may be a better solution.
  • Far be it from me too long for material possessions when the beauty of nature brings me true contentment.
  • They said, Far be it from us to suggest this, but perhaps a change in strategy is required.
  • Far be it from her to question your methods, but she does have some valid concerns.
  • Far be it from me to criticize someone else's artistic choices, but I have no words for that peculiar painting.
  • Far be it from them to interfere in this matter, but they are legally bound to act.
  • Far be it from me to predict the outcome, but this needs to improve.
  • Far be it from me to meddle, but a different approach may yield better results.
  • Far be it from me to interfere in matters that don't concern me, but I firmly believe that love conquers all obstacles.

Examples of "Far Be It From Me" in Pop Culture

The idiom has found its way into various pop culture references:

  • In the song "Far Be It From Me" by Townes Van Zandt, the title reflects the theme of the song.
  • British band The Libertines uses the phrase "The Saga" in their song - "Far be it from me to be so bold."
  • Author Robert B. Parker uses the idiom in his novel 'Hush Money' - "Far be it from me to suggest that Susan's analysis might be tainted."
  • In the TV show 'How I Met Your Mother,' the character Barney uses the phrase, "Far be it from me to tell a woman what she can or can't do."
  • In 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,' Professor Slughorn states, "Far be it from me to tell the headmaster how to run his school."
  • Used by the character Diana Barry in the series 'Anne with an E': "Far be it from me to intrude."
  • Referenced in the novel 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel: "Far be it from me to make a suggestion."
  • Used in the movie 'The Sweetest Thing' by Christina Walters: "Far be it from me to deprive you of such an opportunity."

Other Ways to Say "Far Be It From Me"

Here are alternative ways to express the same idea:

  • I wouldn't want to impose my opinion.
  • I wouldn't presume to advise.
  • It's not my place to say.
  • I wouldn't dare to suggest it.
  • I have no desire to interfere.
  • I wouldn't dream of dictating.
  • It wouldn't be right for me to propose.
  • It isn't for me to prescribe.
  • I shouldn't venture to recommend it.
  • I mustn't try to influence.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Far Be It From Me"

  • What is the origin of the idiom "Far Be It From Me"?

The phrase has roots in biblical texts, where it was used to express humility and non-interference.

  • Can the idiom be used in a formal conversation?

Yes, it's appropriate in both formal and informal conversations, and it adds a touch of politeness and respect to your statements.

  • Is "Far Be It From Me" frequently used in English?

Yes, it's a common idiom used to politely disagree or to indicate that you don't want to give advice when it's not your place.

  • Can "Far Be It From Me" be used in written communication?

Indeed, it can be used in both spoken and written English, adding an element of deference to your statements.

  • Are there any cultural references to "Far Be It From Me"?

Yes, this phrase is used in songs, books, movies, and TV shows. Examples include a song by Townes Van Zandt and references in series like 'How I Met Your Mother' and 'Anne with an E'.

  • What are some synonyms for "Far Be It From Me"?

Phrases like "I wouldn't want to impose my opinion", "I wouldn't presume to advise", or "It's not my place to say" can be used as alternatives.

  • Is "Far Be It From Me" a polite phrase?

Yes, it is considered a polite and respectful phrase that shows you do not wish to impose your views on others.

  • Can "Far Be It From Me" be used sarcastically?

While typically used to express genuine deference, like any phrase, it can be used sarcastically in certain contexts.

  • Does "Far Be It From Me" have different variations?

The pronoun "me" can be replaced with other pronouns depending on the context, such as "Far be it from him" or "Far be it from them".

  • Can the idiom "Far Be It From Me" be used globally in English-speaking countries?

Yes, this idiom is widely understood in English-speaking countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, and others.

Final Thoughts About "Far Be It From Me"

The idiom "Far Be It From Me" continues to be a valuable expression in the English language, offering a subtle and polite way to communicate respect, humility, and non-interference.

  • It's a phrase of modesty, often used to distance oneself from a decision or action.
  • The idiom can be traced back to biblical times, illustrating its deep-rooted significance in our language.
  • Despite its age, the phrase remains relevant in modern English, appearing in a variety of contexts, from everyday conversation to pop culture.

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