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tinyfaery's avatar

What is the difference between a reason and an excuse?

Asked by tinyfaery (36023 points ) October 11th, 2008

There is always a reason something goes wrong, I forget to do something or I do it wrong. Sometimes there are true, legitimate reasons these things go wrong. So what is the difference between a reason and an excuse?

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14 Answers

Vincentt's avatar

“Excuse” often has a negative connotation, i.e. a reason you made up because the real reason is too embarrassing or insulting. In other words, something that the other person would not consider reason to do or not do whatever it is you’re doing or not doing.

nikipedia's avatar

Reason: this is why X happened.
Excuse: this is why I should not be held responsible for X happening.

Magnus's avatar

You have a reason to do something or an excuse not to do something.

Lightlyseared's avatar

A reason is a cold hard fact, an excuse is an attempt to change someones perceptions of the fact.

For example the reason you crashed your car is you were drunk. The excuse would be you’d only had one beer.

loser's avatar

I’ve always thought that a lot of the difference also lies with the interpretation of the listener.

mea05key's avatar

i think they are both different thing altogether. An excuse is someting we say to get us out from a situation whereas a reason the logic behind the explaination for certain thing.

THey can be used together for example, ’ what is the reason for your excuse? ’

gailcalled's avatar

I can’t come to your party because I fell off my porch and am in the hospital. (True, therefore a reason.)

I can’t come to your party because I hate you, I hate parties, and I am in a bad mood I have to wash my hair next Sat. evening.( Not true and therefore an excuse.)

Reasons; can be ID’d by others as true.
Excuse; anyone’s guess.

tinyfaery's avatar

@gail “I can’t come to your party because I hate you, I hate parties, and I am in a bad mood I have to wash my hair next Sat. evening.” is just a lie.

augustlan's avatar

Nikipedia nailed it, exactly.

gailcalled's avatar

@tiny; the scratched out phrases are things I would never use as excuses, but are just the voices in my head. And what is the difference, now that I think of it, between an excuse and a lie?

And there are events that happen that are not one’s responsibility…usually weather-related. If I slide my car into the ditch because there is a patch of black ice I didn’t see, what is cause? Ice, my not being vigilant enough, my not having enough sense to stay home and not test fate?

There is also the vague generality that can always be right. “I can’t come to your party, sadly, because I have plans.” That’s a keeper, even though the friends who love me know that I can’t stand parties.

jvgr's avatar

A reason is the logical explanation of why an event occurred.
An excuse is something we make up to deny why we shouldn’t be responsible for the above mentioned event.

Police set up a bait car near the location of a known, but unproven, car thief.
Camera’s record the thief exiting a building, eyes light up when he sees the car then jimmies the door, hot-wires the car and starts to drive away.

He stole the car because he is a car thief.

His EXCUSE was that:
The police made him do it, they knew he liked that kind of car.

tinyfaery's avatar

Hypothetical example: I tell my wife I will pick up her dry-cleaning. Early in the day my car breaks down, and I have to get it towed, get a rental, and this takes up a lot of the day. However, by the time I have the rental and all is well, the dry cleaner is still open and I could have still picked up the clothes. But since the day was crazy, I just completely forget about the laundry and do not pick it up. According to these posts the reason is I forgot , the excuse is I forgot because I was frazzled by the events of the day. Am I correct in this assumption? That doesn’t seem right. Or is my problem the fact that I am giving a negative connotation to the term excuse?

jvgr's avatar

In your example, your reason and your excuse are identical, if you truly forgot instead of simply choosing to skip the laundry because it was the less complicated way to end a screwy day.

And yes, you are reading a negative connotation into the word excuse, as many do when they use/hear the word criticism.

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