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KatawaGrey's avatar

What does the phrase "with all due respect" really mean?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21446points) December 17th, 2008

I find that when I use that phrase, I sometimes mean that the person I’m talking to is deserving of a great deal of respect and I’m afraid the comment will offend them. However, I also find that when I say that, sometimes I mean the person deserves little or no respect whatsoever and I’m only saying it to a) mock them and b) making nice. Are there more ways to use it? Is one of these ways more commonly used than the other? What is truly meant by this phrase?

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15 Answers

hypeserver's avatar

I believe the true meaning is when you’re talking to someone and they deserve respect and you’re worried the comment may have offended them. As for the ways of mocking them I guess that’s really just putting a sarcastic use to the term.

Jeruba's avatar

[Removed for duplication that occurred when connection was lost.]

Jeruba's avatar

It means “with all the respect that is due” (usually to an individual or group, such as “with all due respect to the assembled dignitiaries”). “Due” means “owed” or “owing.”

It’s a kind of disclaimer that you use when you want to acknowledge someone as deserving respect but you are saying something that might be taken to the contrary. A more colloquial way of saying it is “meaning no disrespect.”

I do hear it used sarcastically, but I think that is rather unbecoming. It is more appropriate to use it in a setting in which you are being a little bit outspoken, such as addressing someone who has a much higher position than yours or is much more expert than you. If you want to say something that could be taken as discourteous—for example, if offering a suggestion to someone who has power and authority to make decisions and does not have to consider your suggestions—you might preface your comment with “With all due respect”:
– “With all due respect, doctor, I don’t think those spots look like a rash.”
– “With all due respect, your honor, I believe that you have to open the box from the other end.”
– “With all due respect, sir, I would like to examine that document for myself.”

augustlan's avatar

It seems to me that I hear the sarcastic version most often from politicians, to other politicians. If you read between the lines, what they are usually implying is “With all due respect, you are an idiot!”

hypeserver's avatar

Yes, but when are politicians not sarcastic?

jessturtle23's avatar

“I think you are doing this wrong but don’t want you to be offended and start an argument.”

Lightlyseared's avatar

It could be – you are an idiot and I am about to tell you so but polietly.

madcapper's avatar

watch Talladega Nights..

Knotmyday's avatar

It means “I’m ‘bout to jam you like a jelly roll.”

Snoopy's avatar

@Jeruba (RE its use sarcastically is unbecoming…)

I would disagree…..I think that different uses of phrases to impart sarcasm shows a certain level of sophistication.

At least they aren’t saying “listen, dip*hit….”

I think it depends on the context….

Jeruba's avatar

@Snoopy, not quite what I said.
I do hear it used sarcastically, but I think that is rather unbecoming.
That was a statement of personal opinion expressing how it affects me. Evidently it affects you differently. That’s fine, isn’t it? It bothers me to hear someone use terms of respect disrespectfully, and I think it reflects poorly on the speaker, as if the person had lowered himself or herself to put it that way. I also dislike hearing someone use terms of endearment with sacastic intent. Personal thing.

Snoopy's avatar

@Jeruba That is what I was saying….?

For me, personally, I don’t necessarily find it unbecoming or reflecting poorly on the speaker.

…just expressing a contradictory opinon…

tiffyandthewall's avatar

well if you really want to analyze the meaning of the sentence, “with all due respect” could mean all the respect you feel they deserve, and therefore you are keeping them off your back by offering a polite disclaimer, but you could feel that they don’t deserve much respect. so if you’re using it sarcastically, you could be offering them little respect. but if you’re genuinely using it, you could be offering a lot. i guess it depends on how you feel about the person and how you intend it.

jw10's avatar

The term is actually condencending and the speaker doesn’t mean any respect at all to the person they are talking to. If you actually meant any respect at all, you would say “Respectfully…...............” Just as in if you were to sign a letter you would say Respectfully yours, and sign your name. Showing great respect for the person you are sending the letter to.

Shnickley's avatar

I think it’s one of those sayings that got tweaked along the way. When we use it we usually mean “I’m about to disrespect you”. I believe it originally was “Without due respect!” i.e. you think respect is due to you, but I’m not giving it to you. I’m going to question and/or disagree with you. I’m not offering you due respect. “Without due respect…..I think you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

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