Which is correct? Better to ASK for forgiveness? Or BEG for it?

This is going around the office today. Figured I’d put it to a poll for you guys.

Which way do you say it:

It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission

It’s better to beg for forgiveness than permission

Ask makes much more sense. You’re doing so after the fact, you’re not really sorry, no reason to beg.

Both are better than asking for permission, as you correctly note. With respect to forgiveness, I have to go with ASK. If forgiveness is not forthcoming, you can double down and BEG later. If you open with begging, you’ve got nowhere to go next.

Wait, it’s not supposed to be “better”, it’s “easier to ask/beg forgiveness… etc” right?

Or has that battle been lost?
…and I see TapaTalk did not ask my permission before adding a sig line…

The phrase as I remember/heard it is

It’s easier to ask for forgiveness then to beg for permission

The implication being that

a) you intended to do it anyway
b) permission was not going to be easy to obtain
c) forgiveness is generally a given

even more so since if you ask for permission and it is not granted, if you do it anyway you’ve got two things to beg forgiveness for, and its even less likely to be granted.

Neither is correct. You’re missing that there needs to be a stated verb, and ideally a DIFFERENT stated verb, for each part. Hence it should be:

It is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

As to better/easier, either works depending upon how one fine-tunes the definition of each.

ETA: While I disagree with simster’s placement of “beg” and “ask,” I wholeheartedly agree with his explanation of the thought.

I do not agree with the maxim, but this is the traditional form IME.

Where the phrase usually came into play for me was during my sales career. I could have a certain deal in mind for a client, and if I came to operational management in advance of signing the deal, they would often reject it, and I would have to go to the client with a less attractive deal. However, if I walked in and dropped a contract for the more attractive deal on the manager’s desk, it never, ever got rejected, even if it brought on a bit of grumbling about the terms. That’s when I would (disingenuously) ask for forgiveness, knowing that the deal I made was actually good for the company, and knowing that had I asked for permission up front, it probably would not have been granted.

I rather like “grovel”.

“A man doesn’t automatically get my respect. He has to get down in the dirt and beg for it.”

I’d rather those answerable to me not be of the mind that going around me is the superior course of action.

But NeonMadman does point out the very common application of the principle, it really is an exhortation to go ahead and act sticking your own neck out, and if it works out well and/or The Powers judge you favorably afterward, then you’ll be OK, but if it goes badly then be ready for you and only you to be thrown under the bus (as The Powers will be able to say they never told you to do that).

The phrase is:

“It is easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

I think it should be:

“It is easier to beg for forgiveness than to get permission”

People always say it the first way though.

It means if you ask for permission you may not get it, so do the thing you want to do and request forgiveness afterwards if necessary.

ETA: As in the example NeonMadman provided.

Well - I;m sure someone will be along to correct me, but according to several sources - its a simpler phrase -

From 1846 -

and then attributed to modern usage to Grace Hopper -

and further attributed to Grace Hopper here - http://freakonomics.com/2010/06/24/quotes-uncovered-forgiveness-permission-and-awesomeness/

so - we’re all correct yet not quite correct with local/personal usages and varients

It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission

Neither. It may be easier/lazier to do either, but it is better to ask for permission and accept the answer given.