Totally unacceptable: “His business practices have always been questionable, but this last takeover was beyond the pale.” The Pale in Ireland was a territorial limit beyond which English rule did not extend.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
How to use beyond the pale in a sentence
In his beyond-the-pale derision and offensiveness, he turned it into a night that could never have been an Oscar ceremony.The Gaudy, Gauche and Sometimes Corrupt Greatness of the Golden Globes | Richard Rushfield | January 16, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
Other Idioms and Phrases with beyond the pale
Outside the bounds of morality, good behavior or judgment; unacceptable. For example, She thought taking the boys to a topless show was beyond the pale. The noun pale, from the Latin palum, meant “a stake for fences” or “a fence made from such stakes.” By extension it came to be used for an area confined by a fence and for any boundary, limit, or restriction, both of these meanings dating from the late 1300s. The pale referred to in the idiom is usually taken to mean the English Pale, the part of Ireland under English rule, and therefore, as perceived by its rulers, within the bounds of civilization.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.