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100 Reliable (and Ridiculous) Excuses for Calling Out of Work

December 2nd, 2010

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Everyone has had days when they just don't feel like going to work. Whether that's because you really have an issue that requires you to stay home, wish you had a different career or just feel like playing video games all day, it doesn't really matter. You just need the perfect excuse to get you out of the office and back into bed. Here are some tried and true excuses as well as some more creative and outrageous ones as well to help you concoct the perfect story for playing hooky from work.


These excuses are tried and true classics.

  1. My grandmother died. While there are times when this excuse might actually be true, it tends to get used quite a bit when it's not. Still, few bosses with question a grieving employee.
  2. I need to stay home to care for my husband/wife/child. You can't argue with having to stay home and care for someone else who's too sick to do it on their own.
  3. My alarm didn't go off. If you somehow managed to sleep through the entire work day or a good portion of it because your alarm didn't go off (even if you forgot to set it) you can't be held responsible for that right?
  4. I have a headache. Headaches, whether migraines or smaller aches, these painful problems make it nearly impossible to work.
  5. I have a family emergency. This is a commonly used excuse perhaps because it discourages further inquiry. Family matters can be very private and your boss may feel awkward asking more.
  6. I have jury duty. If you don't go to jury duty instead of work you could be in big trouble. Of course, you might need to watch out if your boss asks for proof.
  7. I lost my voice. So long as you call in for work in a teeny, tiny whisper, no one will question that you've lost your voice. Just make sure you can't do your job without a voice, otherwise it's not much of an excuse.
  8. It's a religious holiday. You'll have to really commit to this excuse, but your boss can't fault you for needing to take days off to participate in your religious activities.
  9. I have to babysit. Whether they're your own kids of that of a sick relative, you can use this excuse to get out of one kind of work by having to do another.
  10. I'm taking a sick day. Really, do you need to elaborate any further? If your work guarantees sick days, you're allowed to take them when you please.
  11. I stayed up too late working and am too tired to come in. This excuse not only gets you out of work today, but makes you look like a hard worker to boot.
  12. It's my birthday! Is this a valid reason not to come into work. Absolutely not. Is it a common excuse for not coming in? Totally. Should you probably veil it behind some other excuse? More than likely.


While they might not be valid reasons for not coming into work, these excuses at least have a measure of plausibility.

  1. I fell in the shower. Showers are slippery places where falls are not entirely uncommon. It's totally believable that you fell and hurt yourself in the shower, whether you really did or not.
  2. I have traffic school. While your bad boy or girl antics on the road shouldn't really excuse you from work, if you've gotta take care of business, you've gotta take care of business.
  3. I'm being audited. Few out there don't fear the wrath of the IRS. Your boss will understand if you need to stay home to get your financial papers in order.
  4. I can work from home today. Technically, you could probably work from home most days, but it may be easier to sell your boss on just this one day.
  5. My kid is in trouble. Its simple to blame someone else's antics for your absence from work. Plus, any good parent would have to be there for their kid.
  6. I'm still drunk. While you probably shouldn't say this straight out to your boss, it's a pretty good reason not to come to work– especially if you're driving.
  7. I gave blood and now I'm very dizzy. If your boss asks you why you gave blood before you came to work, just tell him or her that you were trying to be a good employee. You'll get bonus points for being a good citizen, too.
  8. I'm getting married. If you've decided to run off and elope, your boss might not be happy that you're doing it on a workday. But hey, what boss wants to stand in the way of true love?
  9. I gotta pay my bills. Your boss can't expect you to have bills paid late, can he?
  10. I have to stay home for a delivery. Someone has to stay home and make sure that furniture arrives safely, right? It just so happens that person is you, on a workday, at the last minute.
  11. I took the wrong medication. Whether you grabbed a Nyquil instead of a Dayquil or took your grandma's meds instead of your own, this is a pretty good reason to avoid hitting the road or coming to work.

Health Related

Few bosses want to deal with your intestinal issues or risk catching something from you, so these health-related excuses work great.

  1. I have cramps. If your boss is a male, he'll feel weird questioning your female problems. If your boss is a female, she'll likely be able to sympathize with your pains, phantom or real.
  2. I have horrible diarrhea. No one wants to ask for more information about your pooping situation, so this excuse is a pretty good one for getting out of work.
  3. I'm having an allergic reaction. With more and more people suffering from food and other allergies these days, it's not outrageous to use this as a reason to get out of work.
  4. I got food poisoning. From bad sushi to tainted steak tartar, getting food poisoning is an unpleasant and unpredictable experience.
  5. I have a toothache. Lie through your teeth, literally, with this excuse.
  6. I have vertigo. If you've got a case of the dizzies, use it to get yourself out of work for a day or two.
  7. I have raging hemorrhoids.No one would admit such an embarrassing fact without it being true, right?
  8. I think I have swine flu. The fear the media instilled in many Americans about this flu still holds strong, so upgrade your regular flu or the sniffles to swine flu for some unquestioned time off.
  9. I got stung by a bee! If some jerk bee has gone and stung you and if you're allergic to them a simple sting can be a pretty big deal. Big enough to skip out of work.
  10. I have the hiccups. How can you answer the phone or talk with your coworkers when every other word out of your mouth is "hic"? This excuse will be much more amusing to your boss than you if you really have some long-lasting hiccups.
  11. I got hot sauce in my eye. Hot sauce, jalapenos or any other spicy substance in the eye is no joke.
  12. I took too much Viagra. It's pretty much guaranteed that no one will want you to come into the office if you use this excuse.
  13. I have pink eye. Few things will send people running the other direction from you than a case of pink eye.

Mental Stability

These excuses will help you to take a mental health day.

  1. My shrink says I need the day off. Mental health is taken very seriously by many HR departments, and few bosses will be able to argue. After all, no one wants to upset a mentally unstable and possibly easy-to-anger person.
  2. I got my first gray hair. In our youth obsessed culture it's perfectly natural that a little thing like aging could send someone spiraling into depression and anxiety.
  3. I'm having an existential crisis. You may have decided you don't even believe in the notion of work anymore or that your life simply doesn't have the meaning you want it to. Whatever your crisis, it's existential and sounds fancy so you can't come to work.
  4. I had a dream I died at work. If your boss is the superstitious type you may be able to finagle a day off of work with this prescient excuse.
  5. My biological clock is ticking. Who can fault you for wanting to have it all? If you need to stay home and make babies, then gosh darn it, your boss better support you.
  6. My significant other dumped me. No one wants you to come to work if you're crying or depressed because of the end of a relationship.
  7. I have vague personal problems. Who says you have to lay all your personal problems out on the table? Some sort of vague personal issues should be enough of an excuse.
  8. I'm afraid of the weather. Trauma from a childhood encounter with a blizzard, tornadoes or thunder can make you freeze up and simply unable to do a lick of work.
  9. I have to stalk my previous boss. Scare the bejesus out of your current boss by implying that you have to spend the day stalking your pervious boss who decided to fire you.

Just Ridiculous

If you just want a ridiculous, over-the-top excuse, try one of these.

  1. There was a spider in my bathroom so I couldn't get dressed. Spiders, even little ones can be scary things, and when they show up in places where you might happen to be naked like the bathroom it can be quite traumatizing. So much so that you can't get dressed to come to work until you know the little sucker is gone and not just biding its time.
  2. I fell into a cactus. Cactuses are always just laying in wait, hoping for a poor soul like you to trip and fall on one. Your boss might buy this one because it sounds just so bizarre it has to be true.
  3. I misused some super glue. Super glue is no joke and it could be a pretty good excuse for not coming into work if you've glued something to yourself, yourself to yourself or someone to yourself.
  4. Today is an inauspicious day for me. If your horoscope or your psychic friend has told you that Tuesday won't be a good day for you, it's probably better that you just stay home. Your boss will certainly understand.
  5. I think I may have stigmata. You cannot possibly be expected to come to work when you're experiencing a religious revelation can you? Plus, later when it's revealed that you are not, in fact, a saint, you can tell your boss that it was actually just a mark from trying to open a ketchup bottle.
  6. My apartment is quarantined.Who wants to deal with some mystery disease? No one at your office, that's for sure. Of course, you may have a hard time interacting with any coworkers when you do come back to work if you use this excuse.
  7. I think I was bitten by a zombie. Zombies have long plagued the living with their thirst for brains and incessant bitey-ness, so your boss simply has to understand it when you call in for a zombie-related injury. If you spend all day zoned out in front of the TV it's not such a stretch that you're a zombie anyway.
  8. I accidentally ate a rock. Some rocks deceptively look like candy. So do buttons, magnets and a host of other inedible objects. You'll need to make an emergency room visit just to make sure you're not going to die, so work will have to wait.
  9. I touched a rat, I think I might have the plague. Your boss may laugh at this excuse but a whopping 1-2,000 people get the plague every year. Why spread it around at work if you don't have to?
  10. I believe the apocalypse may be coming today. You don't want to be stuck at your stupid job on the day of the apocalypse. If the world doesn't, in fact, end on this day, you can always reuse the excuse later on.


If you have no means of conveyance you can't get to work, right?

  1. My car was stolen. If you have a Honda Accord or you live in a particularly bad neighborhood, this excuse might just be more plausible.
  2. Gas is too expensive. Like a joke from a Leno monologue, this excuse will make your boss laugh but it might not get you out of work.
  3. I locked my keys in the car. If you have to hang around waiting for the locksmith to show up you can't be at your desk working and will need the day off.
  4. The snowplow has buried my car. While it might sound like a joke, it's not impossible for this to happen if you park your car on the street. Hours of digging later might yield you your car but you certainly won't be on time for work.
  5. My garage door broke. Forget about the fact that your garage door has a manual way to open it. If the electric opener isn't working, you simply can't go to work.
  6. There was a car accident. Whether you were in it, witnessed it or it happened to a relative, car accidents are a scary ticket out of a day of work.
  7. My carpool group forgot me. Like a poor forgotten kid waiting for a school bus that never came, you got left behind this morning. While it might win you some sympathy from your boss for your patheticness, it won't excuse you from getting to work.
  8. I've got a flat. Flat tires can come on quite unexpectedly and are something you have to take care of right away, so they are a great excuse for getting out of work.
  9. My car doors are frozen shut. In the colder climes of the world, this isn't unheard of and can make it pretty hard to get into your car. While a little hot water or de-icer might do the trick, it's just not worth the effort to travel to work in all that snow and ice anyway.

Home Problems

These excuses use your home as a reason not to come to work.

  1. My neighbor's house caught on fire. Since it's not your house you don't have to worry about too much guilt inducing sympathy from coworkers if you're faking it, but it's just believable enough to get you the day off of work.
  2. My house is infested! Whether you have mice or ants, having to stay home so an exterminator can make an emergency visit isn't something pleasant to do, making your excuse sound believable even if it's not.
  3. I got locked in the bathroom. Those pesky bathroom doorknobs are always getting broken.
  4. My basement flooded. This can be an immensely expensive and messy experience and no boss would force you to come to work when you have to clean up a flooded basement. Of course, exaggerating the level from a few inches to a few feet can't hurt either.
  5. My yard is flooded with poop. Got a septic tank at your house? What if it were to conveniently to break when you need the day off of work. Like most poop-related excuses, this is hard to argue with.
  6. My kitchen is on fire. Kitchens are places where things are constantly catching on fire, so your boss has to understand when you call into work in the middle of a raging grease fire on your stove.
  7. My front door came off the hinges. If your door came off you can't lock your house and you can't just leave it open for criminals to access willy nilly, can you?

Accidents and Emergencies

Who can argue with these excuses? Some are pretty darn valid and some just plain harebrained.

  1. I'm having a baby. There isn't a boss in the world who'd make you come in when you're in labor. After all, giving birth is pretty messy and loud, and it could distract the other workers.
  2. The police have blocked off my street. Whether the drug bust or serial killer takedown on your block is real or fake, you certainly can't come to work with all these cops blocking your path.
  3. I burned myself cooking breakfast. You were just trying to fry up some tasty bacon but it turned against you and now you've got some nasty burns. Incredibly painful if true, but easy to cover up with some bandages if it's not.
  4. I slipped on some ice. Ice is a cruel mistress, and during the winter months it's easy to slip and fall and potentially hurt yourself pretty badly on sneaky ice on your steps, driveway or on the way to your car.
  5. I fell out of a tree. When your boss asks why you were in a tree in the first place, make sure to stay you were rescuing and kitten and not that you were trying to trim a branch and lost your balance. It just sounds better.
  6. I tripped and fell down the stairs. Stairs are often super sneaky and trip up your feet when you're least expecting it. A tumble down the stairs and some bones that may or may not be broken are valid excuses for missing work.
  7. I wrenched my back lifting something heavy. Stuff is always going around being so darn heavy all the time, especially when you have to move it from one place to another. Anyone who's ever tried to carry a dresser up several flights of stairs will sympathize with this plight.

Animal Kingdom

Animals make convenient scapegoats for not coming into work.

  1. My dog/cat is having puppies/kittens. You can't leave your poor pet to go through labor alone. Just make sure you have some cute pictures of newborn pups and kittens on hand if you're fibbing.
  2. My dog bit someone. Your dog and you could be in big trouble if this happens, so calling into work is understandable.
  3. A dog bit me. If it's someone else's dog that's the meanie, then you'll need to spend your day getting medical care and finding a lawyer, not coming into work.
  4. My cat/dog ran away. The trauma of a lost pet, especially in a big city, can make it impossible to do any work. You're better off staying at home.
  5. There's a bear outside. If you live in the mountains, its very possible that there could be a pesky bear outside your house. That bear could be looking for a tasty picnic basket or waiting to maul you. You don't want to find out, so staying home is a must.
  6. I ran over a dog, I have to take it to the vet. While you might be heartbroken if this were to actually happen, using it as a bogus excuse will melt the heart of even the sternest boss.
  7. A skunk sprayed me. No one wants to work next to someone that reeks of skunk.
  8. There is a bug in my ear. Not only is this super gross, no one will want you to come in until you're for sure bug free.
  9. I got lice. Lice can spread quickly and easily and your boss will not even try to make you come in until you're sure you've gotten it under control.
  10. My pet is sick. If your boss is an animal lover, play to his or her weaknesses. A sick dog, cat or pony makes the perfect excuse for staying home from work.

Legal Issues

These excuses, provided you can back them up, are pretty good ways to get out of work.

  1. I have to go to court. If you have to be in court, it's not really your choice, is it? Your boss can hardly fault you for not coming in.
  2. I saw a crime. You're just doing your civic duty and helping to catch the hardened criminal that did, well, whatever it is you're telling your boss that he did.
  3. My car got repossessed! If your boss would only pay you a little more things like this wouldn't happen and you could get into work.
  4. I'm getting a divorce. Sadly, this excuse might be true at least a good portion of the time. If it's not, you can always say you and your spouse worked things out.
  5. I'm in jail. While you might not be doing your character much good with this excuse, it's pretty solid that you used your one phone call to call into work instead of calling your lawyer. Don't let your boss forget it.
  6. I'm being evicted. You can't go to work without a place to come home to, so your boss will have to understand it if you need to stay home because you're being evicted.
  7. I've been robbed! With the trauma of robbery and the ensuing police work, you won't be in to work anytime today.

Personal Issues

Don't let work get in the way of your personal issues and insecurities. Use these excuses to whine your way out of work.

  1. I didn't have anything to wear. A wardrobe crisis can mean anything from literally not having anything to wear to just hating everything in your closet. You'll need the day off to go shopping to remedy the problem.
  2. I am having a bad hair day. Who hasn't woken up with horrible hair and wished they could just stay home? Why can't you? Jokes at the expense of your wonky hair will only damage your delicate psyche.
  3. I feel fat. Feel too bloated and gross to fit into your work clothes? Sounds like a good reason to stay home in your sweat pants instead.
  4. My hair turned green. Trying to dye your hair and have it come out an unexpected and office inappropriate color is a perfectly valid reason to stay home from work.
  5. I have pimples. If your face looks like you're 13 again, you certainly won't be able to face clients or customers. Tell your boss you'll need a few days for it to clear up.

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