In the Greater Maghreb of the Arab world, when two people are having a conversation and the person who is listening has to say something very important and has to butt in, that person would say respectfully:

'(If you'd let me) cut you off with honey'.

It's also used in formal situations:

'Sorry if you'll excuse me there, mind if I cut you off (talk/speech) with honey'.

The English expression 'I'll have to stop you right there' seems to me kind of improper.

Is there anything like this more polite 'cut you off with honey' expression in English?

  • When you say "with honey", is that just a turn of phrase? Is the interruption made with the intent of saying something quite important? Aug 8 '18 at 10:02

In formal settings, one of the more polite ways is to offer

  • If I may interject, ..., or
  • I am sorry to interject, ...

or some similar, as a way to interrupt the speaker to say something that is immediately relevant.

If you interject something, you say it and interrupt someone else who is speaking.


In the south, we say "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar!" While that isn't exactly related - I think it'll help people understand the meaning of the phrase "cut you off with honey", better.

The phrase with flies/honey/vinegar is easy to picture, right? Imagine a syrupy plate of honey in summer - it'd be covered with flies! Not so much for a plate of vinegar, right? So if you want someone's cooperation - well, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so asking nicely, or finding a way to get them to cooperate that will make them happy is much easier than forcing them or making it distasteful.

The point is, in the south we use words like "sugar", "honey", "sweet", and all, to mean nice, pleasant, loving, or even kisses and hugs. So, the lesson is that its easier to get the cooperation of others being nice, than being acidic, mean, or vinegar-y.

Similarly, I think this phrase - to interrupt with honey -is used to communicate that while you are interrupting them and you recognize that can be offensive or annoying - you are trying to do it politely, nicely, respectively, etc aka "with honey"

So, I have to disagree with the person who says, "hold on a second" would be a good substitute. In my opinion, that can come off a bit short or rude - even in casual conversation. I think the more formal, "Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt but..." is the best substitution - but anything that communicates that you want to interrupt but want to do so in the most polite, respectful way possible will work. Kind of like Mary Poppins and her "spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down" - finding a way to pair something nice with something irritating or offensive can make people accept it easier.

  • 2
    Could you place Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt but... in bold? Add two ** either side of the expression. I think you made a very good suggestion, which matches the tone of the OP's idiom.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 16 '16 at 6:49

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