945: I'm Sorry

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
I'm Sorry
You know I've always hated her.
Title text: You know I've always hated her.

[edit] Explanation

The term "I'm sorry" expresses a general feeling of sorrow or grief. It can be used either as an apology (expressing sorrow for one's own actions) or of sympathy (expressing sorrow for someone else's misfortune). Both uses are normal and acceptable, and the distinction is generally clear from the context. Some people deliberately conflate the two uses, treating an expression of sympathy as if it were an apology. This confusion is almost always feigned, as both uses of the term are well understood.

As it says below the comic, when Megan rejects his sympathetic "I'm sorry" by treating it as if it were an apology and saying it was not his fault, rather than just agreeing with her, an irritated Cueball implies that it was always intended as an apology, because he DID, in fact, burn down her mother's house. It is unlikely that he actually burned her house down, but rather is simply teaching Megan a lesson not to nitpick so much.

The title text has Cueball further attempting to convince Megan that he is not just being sarcastic, but really did set the fire, for the simple reason that he hates her mother.

[edit] Transcript

[Megan and Cueball are standing next to each other having a conversation.]
Megan: My Mom's house burned down.
Cueball: Oh! I'm sorry!
Megan: Why? It's not your fault.
Cueball: It's nice of you to say that, but I know what I did.
[Caption below the panel:]
It annoys me when people interpret an obviously sympathetic "I'm sorry" as an apology, so I've started responding by making it one.

[edit] Trivia

This kind of game, in which a deliberate misunderstanding of language is treated as the other person's fault seems to be a peeve of Randall's, and is dealt with in other strips [[1]].

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


That's kinda hard though, he can't be the cause of everything that ever goes wrong, can he? Davidy²²[talk] 09:03, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Well, not directly (at least not intentionally) however chaos theory suggests that he had some contribution even if he did not realize it (or at the vary least he could have taken some actions that would have 'randomly' stopped the event.) Yuriy206 (talk) 18:21, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
And the point is that he is annoyed by people deliberately mis-interpreting his condolences as an apology. 19:24, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Am I the only one who thinks it is that first "I'm sorry" that is weird and not the "Why? It wasn't your fault." part? I know a lot of people do it but that doesn't make it less weird. Tharkon (talk) 01:05, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

In regards to contexts such as the one portrayed in the comic, I always thought the phrase "I'm sorry" to be more accurately interpreted along the lines of "I'm sorry that X happened to you". It is a fairly commonplace expression, so I usually get a little irritated when someone responds in a fashion similar to how the person on the left in the comic responded. 03:14, 19 November 2014 (UTC) scht

Added title text by splitting a line in the explanation. Let's close this. 21:29, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?