Understanding the Idiom: "far be it" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
Etymology: Calque of Latin absit ("may it be away"), found in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible as part of the phrase absit hoc a me ("may this [thing] be away from me") at 1 Samuel 2:30, 1 Samuel 22:15 and 2 Samuel 20:20. Wyclif translated the phrase "Fer be this fro me"; the King James Version at 2 Samuel 20:20 has "Far be it from me".

The idiom “far be it” can also be used to distance oneself from an action or behavior that is considered negative or undesirable. By using this expression, one can make it clear that they do not condone such behavior and want no part in it.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “far be it”

The idiom “far be it” is a commonly used expression in the English language that conveys a sense of distance or separation from something. Its origins can be traced back to ancient times when people used idiomatic expressions to convey complex ideas and emotions.

The Evolution of Language

Over time, languages evolve and change as societies develop new ways of communicating with each other. The English language, for example, has undergone significant changes since its inception, incorporating words and phrases from various cultures and regions.

The Use of Idioms

Idioms are an integral part of any language as they allow speakers to express themselves in unique ways. They often have a figurative meaning that differs from their literal interpretation, making them challenging for non-native speakers to understand.

“Far be it” is one such idiom that has been in use for centuries. It originally meant “God forbid,” indicating a strong desire not to do something or associate oneself with certain actions or beliefs.

Today, the phrase is still used but has taken on a more casual tone. It is often employed when someone wants to distance themselves from an idea or behavior without explicitly stating so.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “far be it”

When we want to distance ourselves from a particular action or behavior, we often use the idiom “far be it” in our conversations. This expression is commonly used to indicate that we strongly disagree with something or that we would never do something.

The phrase “far be it” can be followed by different verbs depending on the context. For example, “Far be it from me to judge someone else’s choices” means that you don’t feel qualified to criticize others’ decisions. Similarly, “Far be it for me to tell you what to do” implies that you’re not trying to control someone else’s actions.

There are also variations of this idiom such as “far be it from us”, which is used when speaking on behalf of a group of people. For instance, “Far be it from us to interfere in your personal affairs” shows respect for someone’s privacy while acknowledging your own boundaries.

Another variation is “far be it for (someone) to (do something)”, which emphasizes an individual’s reluctance or inability to perform a specific task. For example, if someone says, “Far be it for me to speak in public”, they mean that they are not comfortable with public speaking and would prefer not to do so.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “far be it”


Some common synonyms for “far be it” include “heaven forbid”, “God forbid”, “perish the thought”, and “not on your life”. These phrases are often used interchangeably with each other and convey a similar sentiment of rejecting or disavowing something.


On the other hand, some antonyms of “far be it” include phrases like “I hope so”, “I wish that were true”, or simply saying nothing at all. These responses indicate a willingness to accept or believe something rather than reject it outright.

Cultural Insights: The use of idioms can vary greatly across cultures. In Western cultures, such as those in North America and Europe, idioms like “far be it” are commonly used in everyday conversation. However, in some Eastern cultures like Japan, direct rejection is often avoided in favor of more indirect communication styles.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “far be it”

  • Exercise 1: Fill in the blanks
  • In this exercise, you will be given a sentence with a blank space where the idiom “far be it” should fit. Your task is to fill in the blank with an appropriate word or phrase that completes the sentence while using “far be it” correctly.

  • Exercise 2: Identify correct usage
  • In this exercise, you will read several sentences containing instances of “far be it”. Your task is to identify which sentences use this idiom correctly and which ones do not. This exercise aims to help you develop a better understanding of when and how to use “far be it”.

  • Exercise 3: Create your own examples
  • In this exercise, you will create your own examples using the idiom “far be it”. You can choose any context or situation where using this phrase would make sense. This exercise helps reinforce your understanding of how to use idioms effectively in communication.

By completing these exercises, you’ll gain confidence in using “far be it” appropriately. With practice, incorporating idiomatic expressions like these into everyday language becomes easier and more natural.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “far be it”

When using idioms in English, it’s important to understand their meanings and usage. The idiom “far be it” is no exception. However, even if you know what this idiom means, there are still some common mistakes that people make when using it.

One mistake is using the wrong verb tense. The correct form of this idiom is “far be it from me,” not “far was it from me.” Another mistake is failing to use the preposition “from” after “be it.” Without this preposition, the sentence will sound awkward or incorrect.

Another common mistake is misusing the word order. The correct order of words in this idiom should be: subject + far be it + from + object/verb phrase. For example: Far be it from me to judge someone without knowing all the facts.

Finally, some people misuse this idiom by adding unnecessary words or phrases that don’t belong. For example: Far be it from me to tell you what to do because I’m not your boss. In this case, adding “because I’m not your boss” doesn’t add anything meaningful to the sentence and only serves as a distraction.

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