“But I Digress” (Meaning and Use)

“But I Digress” is a phrase people use to confess to their audience that they’ve departed from the main discussion along with an apologetic conveyance. It’s a quick and concise way to return to the topic at hand while also being considerate and polite to their audience.

Some people love to talk and talk and talk. They’ll begin with one subject and go in several different directions. Because people tend to do this often, they will say “But I Digress.” It’s a useful verbal device to stay on the subject at hand.

Etymology and Origin

It’s a mystery where “But I Digress” comes from. However, “digress” stems from the word “digression.” This comes from an old Latin word that means to deviate, depart or go away from. So, when you hear someone say this, they acknowledge they’ve gone off track from the main discussion.

How to Use the Phrase

“But I Digress” is a common phrase during longer talks, speeches, and discussions. Things like hours-long talks, public speeches, interviews, and other such things may warrant the use of it. Consider the examples listed below.


When I was a child, we walked to school for 10 miles in the snow without shoes or socks. We’d be frozen to the bone and there was absolutely no heat. I remember having to huddle with other children in the center of the room just to get warm. But, I digress. I just wanted to illustrate how different things are today.


Sally: Did you ever find out what happened to Bill yesterday?

Sam: No, I haven’t heard from him. But I do know that Carry went to the store and his boss noted that he hasn’t seen him either. Besides, Bill’s been strange since his dog passed away. His dog was the sweetest and kindest thing. But, I digress. No one has heard from Bill.

Public Speaking

Good morning everyone! Today, we’re going to discuss ancient Greek mythology and how they’re actually stories that reflect historical events. But, I want to digress for a moment and touch on last week’s subject seeing as how everyone failed the pop quiz.


When someone says “But I Digress,” they acknowledge that they’re moving away from the main point or topic. It’s a quick, polite, and sincere way to return to the main point of discussion.