Beg to differ (or beg to disagree) is a way to express that you politely disagree with someone or something.
The idiom is used usually in professional environments, used to prevent offending the other person in a dispute, like your boss or superior.
To “beg to differ” is one of those expressions often used in arguments, where the parties are adopting a way of strange politeness. Similar is the expression “with respect”, which frequently is followed by a statement that lacks any respect.
The colloquial term beg to differ comes from the expressions “begging” and “difference”. “Begging” used to be a more soft and frequently used term in old times. It was simply a derivative of the expression “ask”.
The term is believed to have been born during the 16th century. It was probably invented after the expression “begs the question” became popular in philosophical literature.
Beg to differ is more frequent in British-English dialects. In Britain, the term is often used in informal dialogues as well.
American metal band PRONG gave one of their tracks the title “Beg To Differ” in 1990.
- Urbandictionary.com – Beg to differ