So I was walking in the hallway at my business, and one of my co-workers said excuse you to me. He said excuse you, when we kind played "footsies," where he was trying to go past me and I was trying to go past him in a corridor and almost but did not bump into each other.

What irked me was how he said excuse you, which I believe implies it is my fault. Shouldn't he have said excuse me, or rather both of us should have said excuse me? Instead, he said excuse you and it left a foul taste in my mouth.

I am confused about this excuse me because he said it in a "gentle" manner. Most of the time (at least my experience) when excuse you is said, it is said in a mad or annoyed tone, but he gently said excuse you. Did he think it was my fault for stopping him?

Edit* I didn't think it would be related but after hearing about the situation, I do believe he implied it was my fault. Yesterday my fellow co-worker was angry at my for confirming information. So I had to ship out a cushion and we have multiple colors, I asked for confirmation if it was the tan color and he just blew up and started saying how he already told me and ranted on me. Usually he's quite nice and after that situation when we "bumped" into each other he said excuse you nicely. Most of the time I wouldn't have thought anything about it because he is rather nice, but given the situation and the responses, for this particular situation I believe he thought I was wrong.

  • 4
    He was probably joking since it's nobody's fault when two people momentarily shuffle to no purpose when they try to pass each other.
    – deadrat
    Apr 1, 2016 at 22:45
  • There are some accents for which excuse sounds like ex-cue-say (3 syllables, like the French excusez-moi). This can sound like "excuse you".
    – Lawrence
    Apr 2, 2016 at 9:29

4 Answers 4


Excuse you is the subverted form of the idiom excuse me. It definitely implies that it was your, i.e., the non-speaker's, fault.

If you do something rude and minor (like burp, or accidentally bump into someone, etc), you say "Excuse me" to apologize.

Some people rudely say "excuse you" to someone they feel needs to apologize for being rude. For example, if the husband burps and does not excuse himself, the wife may say "excuse you!" This is a sarcastic and very unpleasant expression.

wordreference: excuse you

If he was joking, that would be the joke. It would only be funny if it couldn't possibly be your fault, yet he's saying it is anyway.

Whether he was joking is impossible to tell if you don't tell us how he said it or if he smiled.

  • Thanks, if you read my edit, I think he believes he's right for no particular reason. My co-worker was just being an a hole yesterday when he's usually quite nice which confused me. Apr 2, 2016 at 21:42

Without knowing your culture, let me assume that you are an American. Then the meaning of "Excuse you" depends entirely on the speaker's tone of voice, facial expression and body language.

If the speaker is smiling, "Excuse you" is a sort of joke, an ironic figure of speech. It recognizes that neither of you is at fault and it's the sort of thing that happens all the time. There is even a famous comic strip Alphonse and Gaston which plays on the situation. In this case, it is assumed that both of you share the joke.

On the other hand, if the speaker is not smiling, and speaks brusquely, the presumption is that he feels that his higher status requires that you get out of his way.


Saying “excuse you” is either rude or it may be a cultural term; like pronouncing “ax” instead of “ask” or “you was” or “you is” instead of “you are” or “you were”


Excuse you is definitely rude and implies you think that person was at fault. If you take their word for it the proper polite response would be, “gee that was not intentional, but perhaps you would like to be excused for being in my way as well.“ in my situation, with the oblivious shopper who said “excuse you” I should have said “gee, I didn’t think the cart bumped you but clearly you left it in the middle of the aisle, which is also rude, don’t you think?”

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