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Because he loved her beyond the pale of reality

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I would have understood "loved her beyond the pale" as in "love her beyond what's socially regarded as acceptable", but adding "of reality" makes no sense. It's like saying "he loved her beyond what's appropriate in the reality of this world", so I am confused. Is there anything wrong with this?

What are all the different ways you can use the idiom "beyond the pale"?

Any tip and trick for non-English speakers?

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  • I agree, that author's use of "beyond the pale" doesn't really make sense. It always means something like "beyond what is decent", but I don't think the author understood that.
    – stangdon
    Aug 2, 2022 at 1:46
  • What a truly awful book! Aug 2, 2022 at 8:36
  • The author is trying to avoid a cliché but he took one and messed with it. Probably because he is ignorant of the original meaning of: to be beyond the pale, which is only negative.
    – Lambie
    Aug 3, 2022 at 13:29

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There is a similar sounding expression "beyond the veil" meaning "in a mysterious or hidden place or state".

It seems to me that this author is mixing up "beyond the pale" and "beyond the veil" and producing a bit of a mess.

The author here is an amateur author, and you might expect such errors, mixed metaphors and malapropisms. Occasionally you will find "hidden gems" when reading amateur work. More often you find amateurism.

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beyond the pale

Origin The origin of “beyond the pale” goes back to the 14th century in England and Ireland. The four eastern counties of Meath, Louth, Dublin, and Kildare were the “obedient shires” and the only part of Ireland remaining under the control of the English crown.

People would mark the “King’s perimeter” using wooden fencing known as “pales.” The settlement would fortify the boundary over the centuries, providing protection against cattle and livestock feed ransacking.

Those people living within the borders of the “Pale ditch” received protection from the crown. Those “beyond the pale” were subject to the savage laws of the Irish, with no protection from the crown. [!! savage laws? Well, the British were very savage towards the Irish!!]

“Beyond the pale” evolved to a colloquial phrase over the centuries, and it remains in use today. Politicians and media personalities will use the term to describe horrible actions or decisions taken by other leaders.

That's the historical explanation.

Here's another: Beyond the pale

The author is trying to avoid cliché but has tried to apply a negative cliché to a positive situation, which makes the writing terrible.

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  • I have heard that story, and I have heard a roughly equivalent one with the Pale of Settlement. Aug 2, 2022 at 22:57
  • @MichaelLorton That would be inaccurate. It is not roughly equivalent at all. Here is a better explanation that is the same as the one in my answer: cntraveler.com/story/…
    – Lambie
    Aug 3, 2022 at 13:20
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A pale is a stake or a post — it comes from the same root word as “pole” and “impale” — and it came to mean any area separated off by a fence. The phrase “beyond the pale” means “beyond the bounds of morality” or “beyond the bounds of social acceptance”.

Taken more-or-less literally, “beyond the pale of reality” would mean “beyond the limits imposed by reality”, instead of the limits of society.

But that phrase is an instance of terrible writing, for many reasons, including the confusion it causes in non-native speakers.

The sentence is not grammatically incorrect, but I cannot imagine a native English speaker using the expression this way. The phrase “beyond the pale” is used in condemnation, even disgust, and it is jarring to hear love described in those terms.

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  • Is "loving someone beyond the pale" correct?
    – Sayaman
    Aug 2, 2022 at 2:17
  • It might be optimistic to assume people know what "pale" means, but it depends how educated your audience is. The expression is grammatical and makes sense if you do know. Calling it "terrible writing" seems a bit much.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 2, 2022 at 9:28
  • @Sayaman — answer edited to respond directly. Aug 2, 2022 at 18:40

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