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.
Origin of the term
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 step away.”
“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.
Spread of the term
“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.
It is often paired with an unpopular or uncommon opinion, as if it is being brought up randomly out of context.
A definition was added to Urban Dictionary in 2010, explaining the expression to those who are still unfamiliar with this manner of speech.