Pardon, remission. -- Forgiveness, Pardon. Forgiveness is Anglo-Saxon, and pardon Norman French, both implying a giving back. The word pardon, being early used in our Bible, has, in religious matters, the same sense as forgiveness; but in the language of common life there is a difference between them, such as we often find between corresponding Anglo-Saxon and Norman words. Forgive points to inward feeling, and suppose alienated affection; when we ask forgiveness, we primarily seek the removal of anger. Pardon looks more to outward things or consequences, and is often applied to trifling matters, as when we beg pardon for interrupting a man, or for jostling him in a crowd. The civil magistrate also grants a pardon, and not forgiveness. The two words are, therefore, very clearly distinguished from each other in most cases which relate to the common concerns of life.
© Webster 1913.