"We apologize for your patience"

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S.I. reports:

In a message from my building management:

Dear Valued Residents
A note to let you know that the water is back on. We apologize for your patience.

…and asks:

Is there a name for this kind of error?



  1. Pavarotti said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 1:03 pm


  2. Gregory Kusnick said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 2:39 pm

    This arguably makes sense if we take "patience" to be a euphemism for "not being able to use the bathroom for several hours".

  3. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 3:29 pm

    Gregory Kusnick's comment suggests to me that one possible cromulent alternative that got garbled (via deletion of key words) could be "We apologize for imposing on your patience." That would yield a different causal theory about what went wrong than my initial hypothesis that the writer intended "We appreciate your patience" but then swapped in a non-synonym with a phonetically-identical beginning. Perhaps there's also a third potential cromulent-sounding alternative that could have been accidentally turned into this result? Just as one cromulent sentence could perhaps get garbled into multiple possible nonsense alternatives, perhaps sometimes multiple cromulent sentences can get garbled into the same nonsense alternative?

  4. outeast said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 4:12 pm

    I rather like the idea that patience has been imposed rather than willingly granted. It's honest.

  5. Rick Rubenstein said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 5:09 pm

    If I were a betting man I'd put my money on an incomplete edit between "We apologize for the inconvenience" and "We thank you for your patience", in one direction or the other. Not a lot of money, mind you. (It might also have been a purely "in-brain" edit.)

  6. rbl said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 6:09 pm

    Latin. patiēns (genitive patientis, comparative patientior, superlative patientissimus); third-declension one-termination participle

    >> 1. suffering, enduring
    2. allowing, acquiescing, submitting
    3. patient; long-suffering

  7. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 6:53 pm

    “We apologize for [trying] your patience.”

  8. Diana said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 7:11 pm

    This could be the result of either 1) interference from a polysemous verb in another language (e.g., Finnish valittaa can mean complain, apologize, appeal depending on complementation and context, so perhaps there is a verb somewhere that means both apologize and acknowledge); or 2) mixing "apologize (for)" and "appreciate," perhaps helped by autofill. Was it a handwritten notice, a text message or what?

  9. RobW said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 9:43 pm

    Not sure if it's exactly the same thing, but the foyer of my building has a sign that reads "Please enter quietly at night as it disturbs other residents."

  10. Joe Polidoro said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 10:12 pm

    Yes, there is a name for this. Ringoism.

  11. Viseguy said,

    May 9, 2022 @ 11:41 pm


  12. GH said,

    May 10, 2022 @ 7:49 am

    There was a comment by someone that got deleted, perhaps because the moderators did not see the relevance, but I think it's a good example of one of the most likely explanations here, where a dual intention – apologizing and also expressing concern/gratitude – produces an inappropriate statement by "trying to say two things at the same time" (a version of what @Rick Rubinstein calls an "in-brain edit"):


    (The story has become a popular internet meme.)

  13. Christine Bothmann said,

    May 10, 2022 @ 9:19 am

    I travelled from Zurich to Munich last sunday, by train. The train departed 46 minutes late (due to an "unexpected reversal of travelling direction", whatever that means!) and arrived 57 minutes late. The very friendly train manager kept explaining the development via loudspeaker and always ended with "we kindly apologize".

  14. Ralph J Hickok said,

    May 10, 2022 @ 10:45 am

    @Christine Bothmann:

    That makes me think of the phrase, "I thank you kindly," which has always seemed rather strange to me.

  15. Rodger C said,

    May 10, 2022 @ 12:34 pm

    I suspect "I thank you kindly" is a fossil of the original meaning of thank: "I think of you kindly."

  16. DDeden said,

    May 10, 2022 @ 4:26 pm

    We [appreciate/apologize for trying] your patience ->

    We apologize for your patience

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