A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

37 of the Funniest Excuses Ever Uttered

Your bad? Fine. Just don't follow it up with one of these lousy lines...

Senior woman, African-American friend laughing together
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You call that an excuse?

We’ve all tried to come up with a believable excuse instead of just accepting defeat at some point in our lives. Some people are good at it and others crack under the pressure and blurt out something that’s clearly a lie. We explored a Reddit thread and asked Reader’s Digest readers to gather some of the lamest (and funniest) excuses that people have ever uttered.

Mature businesswoman talking with client at phone
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Can’t lie to family

My cousin once called out of work because of a “death in the family.” I was her boss. If you’re thinking of calling out of work too, check out these hilarious, real excuses people used to call out of work.

Businesswoman downtown on mobile phone
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Gambling for rent

Working as an apartment manager, I’ve heard every excuse for why the rent is late: Husband got laid off. Kids were sick. I lost the money order. Or simply, “I forgot.” But the most creative excuse of all was this: “I only had half the rent. So I went up to the casino to try to double my money.” —Mikki Sams Everett, Washington. These are the most hilarious 911 calls ever placed.

Laundry basket with dirty towels on floor
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Stolen towels

From my coworker: “I don’t need a ride today, I’m not coming to work. Someone stole my towels from the laundry room and I’m going to track them down.” These are the funniest—and cutest—mistakes kids have ever made.

Large build man training with weights at home
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Shedding pounds for the gym

My husband hasn’t been to the gym in over a year. One day, I asked him to come with me. “No,” he said, “I need to lose a few pounds before I go back.” —Sandra Curran Vero Beach, Florida. Check out the funniest things homeowners have found in their backyard.

Rear View Of Female High School Teacher Standing At Front Of Class Teaching Lesson
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Quidditch practice

People at my high school used to tell a teacher that they had to leave early for Quidditch practice. Yes, she let them leave and apparently hadn’t heard at all of the sport, but she wasn’t from around here. These are the most cringe-worthy things HR reps have seen from job applicants.

With deepest sympathy notecard
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Back to life

When our new hire didn’t show up for work, I called her. She explained that her mother had passed away and that she would need a few days off for bereavement. “Of course,” I said.

A week went by, and she still hadn’t returned to work. So I called again. This time, she said she had good news and bad. The good news: Her mother had come back to life. The bad news: She was sick again, so she had to stay home with her. —Benjamin Weber Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Exhaust and red light
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Muffler on the wrong side

My former roommate, on the phone with his boss, “I can’t make it today. My muffler… is to the left.” If you actually want to get away with calling out of work, this is the best excuse.

FBI agents working late at night in the office
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No driver’s license

I was a federal agent, interviewing a young man for his security clearance. I knew that he’d been arrested for speeding a few years earlier, but he hadn’t said so on his application. When I asked him why, he said he didn’t think the arrest counted.

“Why wouldn’t it count?” I asked.

“Because I didn’t have a driver’s license.” —Miriam Kitmacher Tucson, Arizona. Check out the craziest things drive-through workers have seen on the job.

Ear hygiene
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Can’t hear correctly

My coworker on why he was late: “I Q-Tipped my ears last night, and went too far into my left ear. My alarm was on the left side of my head in the morning, and I didn’t hear it till now.” He was fired shortly after. These are the funniest tombstones that really exist.

Hot water heater and furnace in basement
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New furnace filter

Once, when my dad received an invitation to do something he obviously didn’t want to do, he replied, “I can’t go. I have to change the furnace filter.” Now whenever anyone in my family doesn’t want to do something, that’s what we tell each other. —Debra Nelson Hugo, Minnesota

Students Texting in Class
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Where am I?

“I got caught texting in class and told my teacher I forgot I was at school.” Check out these hilarious things people believed as kids.

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I was an hour late for my appointment at the sleep-disorder clinic. My excuse: “I overslept.” —Lou Fleury Royal Oak, Michigan

Funny moment
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Fighting for my teacher

“I lost my homework fighting a kid who said you weren’t the best teacher ever.”

Man laughing with smart phone
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Home to Texas

Working on an oil rig in North Dakota during the winter weeds out the riffraff. One day, one of my workers told me he had to go home to get a warmer coat. He was gone for a few days before finally calling to tell me he was home. Home, by the way, was sunny Texas. —Leon Hewson Amidon, North Dakota

Sleep solves everything
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Dreaming at work

I had someone call into work saying that they were going to be late. Why? Because they were at home sleeping but dreamed they were at work so they didn’t realize they had to get up.

Naughty playful puppy dog border collie after mischief biting toilet paper lying on couch at home. Guilty dog and destroyed living room. Damage messy home and puppy with funny guilty look
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My dog ate your homework

I was in the middle of grading my students’ homework, and my husband and I decided we were hungry. So I left all the papers organized in neat piles, and we ducked out. I returned an hour later to discover that my puppy had found the papers. The next day, I called three of my students over to my desk to explain why I was giving them all 100 on their assignments: “My dog ate your homework.” —Joanne Beer Las Cruces, New Mexico

Group of high school boys running on a path
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You don’t need your finger to run

“I can’t do cross country today because I hurt my finger.” These are the most bizarre car insurance claims ever filed.

Directly above shot of mainly vegan meal served on table
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Dinner last night

I recently invited neighbors over for dinner. When they were about an hour late, I gave them a buzz to see what time we might expect them. The wife was nonplussed. “Oh,” she said. “I thought that was last night.” —Jim Godfrey Freeport, Florida

Sack with pure sugar on table
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Take Your Grandson to Work Day

In eighth-grade health class, we were doing a “baby” project with bags of sugar, I forgot mine at home and my excuse was “It’s Take Your Grandson to Work Day.”

Clearing the Snow
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Covered by a snowplow

A student of mine claimed he didn’t have his homework because it had fallen into a pile of snow and was quickly covered by a snowplow. Of course, I didn’t believe him. Still, I gave him credit for concocting such an original excuse and allowed him to redo the assignment.
Two months later, after the snow melted, he presented me with the ragged folder containing the faded original version of his homework. —Michael Lorinser Prior Lake, Minnesota

I think I'm going to the doctor later
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Allergic to water

My roommate’s excuse for not being able to wash her dishes: “I’m allergic to hot water.”

Police officer making a traffic stop
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Can’t go that fast

Years ago, as a young man driving a very old station wagon, I was pulled over for speeding.

“You know, you were going 55 in a 45-mph zone,” the officer said.

I knew he was wrong and told him. “Honestly, Officer, I don’t think this piece of junk can go that fast.”

“You know, that’s the best excuse I’ve heard in a long time.” He then got back into his patrol car without ticketing me. —Arnie Maestas Cumberland, Maine

Young guy sitting next to bookshelf at library, using laptop
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No Internet for homework

I received an email from a student that said, “Yea, sorry teacher I didn’t do my homework. I didn’t have Internet.” An email! These stupid warning labels will make you feel like a genius.

Businesswoman boarding train
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Late train

One of my chronically late employees showed up later than usual. At least he had a good excuse: “The train that gets me here ten minutes late was ten minutes late.” —Patricia Johnson Brick, New Jersey

Sick african-american man measuring body temperature in bed
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High fever

One of my cashiers once called off with a 112-degree fever… needless to say, I congratulated him on his medical miracle for surviving when I saw him next.

Straight Railroad Lines
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Invisible train

A guy claimed he was held up by the train on the way to school. There hasn’t been a train on those tracks in decades.

little girl stroking black cat
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Depressed cat

“I can’t go into work today, my cat is depressed and I should take care of it.” —From a physical therapist with a doctorate degree. If you’ve ever felt like you looked dumb at work, these stories of dumb employees will make you feel better about yourself.

Carrion crow on branch
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Crow thief

I had a worker who didn’t show up one Monday, and his excuse was “a crow stole my car keys.”

Couple unloading boxes from moving van
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A lot of stuff to move

I had an employee who told me six weekends in a row that he didn’t turn up to work because he was “helping his parents move.”

Beautiful european cat is relaxing in the soft white blanket on a sofa
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Sick cat

A student couldn’t come to take their final exam because “their cat was sneezing.”

Senior man laughing in the pool
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Water on fire

“Be right back guys, my pool’s on fire.” Check out these stories of the dumbest criminals ever.

In the Car with Grandma
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I want to miss the final

I had a student tell me she would be missing the final to drive her grandma to the airport. I said, “Can’t someone else drive her?” She replied, “Yeah but I want to do it!”

Friendly sales clerk helping adult couple look for furniture looking at a design on man's smartphone
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Furniture shopping

“I have to go furniture shopping with my parents.”

Young man running up steps in urban setting
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Tripped on the stairs

After a student was late to class, he said he fell on the stairs. He used that excuse several times, too.

Generation Z Music Band On Rehearsal
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Band over everything else

“I’m in a band. I don’t have time.” These hilarious work cartoons will help you get through the week.

Small Elephant in the Etosha National Park crossing the road
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Elephant in the road

My mom’s excuse for being late for work: Barnum and Bailey’s circus was in town and the elephant got loose and sat down in the middle of the road and they couldn’t get him to move.

Woman pulled over by police
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Just play dumb

“Sorry officer, I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to do that.” You’ll probably also get a kick out of the dumbest laws in every state.