Great discussion on “I’m Sorry” vs. “My Bad” last week! Thanks so much, everyone.

Here’s my Word Nerd take on it.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “Sorry” comes from the Old English sarig, “distressed, grieved, full of sorrow.” The Dutch version is zerig, “full of sores.”


I might be distressed and full of sorrow if I truly offend or injure someone. But in the case of a minor bump in a crowd, an unintentional mix-up, or something that was out of my control, not so much. Probably not even if I accidentally bat a ball into your window, though I will want to take responsibility and fix the window.

Tossing off a “Sorry” in a situation where there was offense or injury is not a good idea. A true, look-you-in-the-eyes “I’m sorry” is. However, I plan on leaving “I’m sorry, but …” out of my vocabulary.

If I’ve done something intentionally (hope I’ve matured beyond this at this point in my life!) or especially egregious, I’ll go for a “Please forgive me.” Following up with a sincere discussion about what I’m seeking forgiveness for.

Now, onto “My Bad.” Don’t go hang out on with children, but I found their definition of the term very amusing and quite telling:

A way of admitting a mistake, and apologizing for that mistake, without actually apologizing. The best definition I ever read of this, now paraphrased:

“I did something bad, and I recognize that I did something bad, but there is nothing that can be done for it now, and there is technically no reason to apologize for that error, so let’s just assume that I won’t do it again, get over it, and move on with our lives.”

Ruder than apologizing, but with the same meaning: a flippant apology.

As much as I despise “My bad,” maybe we do have a place for it in our society. Just for the little unintentional bumps and bruises of real life, situations that call for an apology without delving into unnecessary sorrow and issues of forgiveness. It’s the “flippant” part of “my bad” that bugs me, so maybe, just maybe, it’s possible to use “my bad” without getting flippant? And, might I suggest a sense of humor in these situations? Non-flippant, of course. I’m gonna try it!

Or will I sound like a 40-something trying to sound like a teenager?

So … the generational word battle for next week?

“No, thanks” versus “I’m good.”

“Would you like a soda?”

“No, thanks.”

“Would you like a soda?”

“I’m good.”

Weigh in below!