But I digress, also frequently encountered as I Digress is a phrase that is used when someone recognizes that they have drifted off topic.
It is a reaction to one’s train of thought getting sidetracked and is utilized to get back to the original subject of the conversation.
Alternatively, the expression may be used to give voice to an unpopular opinion, that the speaker feels is undervalued and more attention should be given to it.
The term “digress” had been a part of the English lexicon since the 1500’s, adopted from the Latin language.
The expression literally means “to deviate”, originating from the Latin verb digredi.
“But I digress” had been used in the same sense as today as early as 1530 and had been utilized since then both in written and spoken form.
By the 19th century, the phrase has been well established in the English language.
“But I digress” is used in the same manner up to this day, from conversations to literary works and articles to song lyrics as well as cartoons, with its frequency gaining a larger foothold in the second half of the 20th century.
It is often paired with an unpopular or uncommon opinion, as if it is being brought up randomly out of context.
A definition to I Digress was added to Urban Dictionary in 2010, explaining the expression to those who are still unfamiliar with this manner of speech.
- Linguablog.com – “But I digress”: Here’s What It Means and How You Use It
- Dictionary.com – I digress