flip the tab

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elonadiaval

New Member
français - France
Hi everyone!

I'm translating a tvshow where the boss of a company is telling his employees that he's organizing a party to celebrate the well being of the company. So one of the employees shouts : "You're taking care of the bill?" to which he answers: "We'll flip the tab/tap!" (I'm not sure if he says tab or tap) Either way, I don't understand the meaning of this phrase.

After this, the crowd cheers, so I figured it's something positive.

Anybody can help?

Thanks in advance!!!

Elodie
 
  • wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    Hello elonadiaval, and welcome to the WR Forum!

    The tab is slang in the US for the bill/check (« la douleureuse »).

    Are you sure he did not say "We'll flip for the tab" (flip for the tab = tirer à pile ou face pour voir qui payera)
     

    Psychae

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Heya,

    It would've been "tab", which means the bill - people buy drinks throughout the night and the costs get added to the person's 'tab', which is then paid at the end.

    I'm not entirely sure what "flip the tab" means though!
     

    elonadiaval

    New Member
    français - France
    Hey! Thank you all for the answers.
    I'm pretty sure he doesn't say "for the tab".
    So can "we'll flip the tab" just mean "we'll get the bill", then?
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    I think Psychae and I (native speakers of British and American English) are telling you that "flip the tab" doesn't mean anything in English.
     

    wendyredredrobin

    Senior Member
    English UK
    However...if you Google the phrase "flip the tab" there are some videos that show girls flipping coins into a cup and another flipping up the tab on a drink can...so it could mean 'we'll have a few beers' or even 'we'll flip open the tap on a barrel of beer' ....take your pick!!
     

    Psychae

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Interesting ideas! :p Don't you think they're a little unlikely though given the context: he was replying to being asked "You're taking care of the bill"?
     

    wendyredredrobin

    Senior Member
    English UK
    From Wikipedia: "Foot the bill" vs. "Flip the bill" "Flip the bill" is an Eggcorn of this idiom; replacing the obscure "foot" with the more familiar "flip" with the help of a modern-day social norm.
    A tradition in dining establishments (i.e. restaurants, diners, etc.) involves the server presenting a check to a party face down on the table. Hard pressed to find a website stating exactly what started this tradition leaves one to simply cite examples from daily life. For instance, in literature; this from an excerpt from Lee Child's "Echo Burning" [2]:
    She held the water glass flat against her face. Then she used a napkin to wipe the dew away. The waitress brought their drinks. The iced coffee was in a tall glass, and she spilled some of it as she put it down. Reacher's was in an insulated plastic carafe, and she shoved an empty china mug across the table next to it. She left the check face down halfway between the two drinks, and walked away without saying anything at all.
    The Yahoo! Answers community also speculate as to its purpose, with some users rationalizing that:
    ...the check is presented in the middle of a table and face down (so) whoever has chosen to pay can do so discreetly without the other party knowing how much the meal cost.
    ...so the person paying can keep how much they paid private from others at the table.
    ...if one person is paying, it's polite not to show eveyone else at the table the cost of the meal.
    So, for matters of etiquette, custom, or otherwise, checks are often given face down. This would necessitate the person who is footing the bill to "flip" the check/bill over to see how much is owed. A combination of the forgotten origins of this idiom, coupled with this social norm, may have driven many to question whether the term foot is correct, leading to the usage of an as-yet etymologically recognized saying "flip" the bill. Michael Quinion mentions an "odd feeling" that may hint as to why some people would question it enough to use the word flip instead:
    It is an odd expression, isn’t it? It’s the kind of idiomatic phrase that we may use regularly without any feeling that it’s in the least odd, until somebody such as yourself asks about it.
    One may argue that this is simply misinterpreting the idiom, but it has steady use. A Herald Tribune article [3] written in 2005 has the title NFL, Bucs aren't offering to flip the bill, regarding who would ultimately pay for legal fees in a court dispute.
    More personal usage can be found in an article written for a Poker website and various posts to message boards and blogs:
    The gaming friendly jurisdiction of Gibraltar is reviewing possible actions to have this bill ratified according to Gambling911.com sources and PartyGaming could potentially help flip the bill.[4]
    My question is: if we are competing for the hearts and minds, then are we going to have to flip the bill for the average Arab to have full access just so pro western ways aren't completely censored from the masses? [5]
    That's why we must make sure that the health care plan that succeeds this year is a more comprehensive plan that DOES NOT FLIP THE BILL ON WORKING PEOPLE while corporations get off SCOTT FREE! [6]
    In fact, a quick search of the exact phrase in a search engine shows how often people use this variant to mean exactly the original idiom's modern-day interpretation as described by Michael Quinion. And for some more familiar with flipping a bill after dining out versus footing the total on an accounting ledger, this might easily seem to be the accurate wording. Ironically enough, another Yahoo! Answers question discussing a matter of etiquette, specifically which party should pay for a dinner, received the following response:
    The person who extended the invitation should flip the bill.
    As of this writing, flip the bill has not officially been recognized as a variant of foot the bill, or even as an idiom in its own right.
     

    elonadiaval

    New Member
    français - France
    Yes, it is a US show. And of course, I could be wrong, but I really hear "We'll flip the tab". AND that's what the transcript I got from my client also says...
     

    JeanDeSponde

    Senior Member
    France, Français
    I've found a few occurences (in US forums) where it means "pay the bill" indeed:
    Q: First date - who do you think should pay, man or woman?
    A: Depends on what your doing. Something like coffee where you're not going to see some outlandish tab, why not pick up the tab. Other circumstances may call for splitting the tab. I always seem to do every other time. I usually pick up the tab the first time and just tell them at the end that next time its their turn to cook or flip the tab.
    Now I may be slightly biased [in favor of this restaurant], because whenever I come, I invariably find myself completely surrounded with food (compliments a la company), and thus have never had to flip the tab.
    I have always maintained that a man should flip the tab for a date.
     

    Psychae

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Well I've learned a new phrase today! "Flip the bill" comes up on Google (there's even previous Wordref thread about it) but I didn't make the connection with "foot" until Wendy's post - "flip the tab" seems to be even more uncommon though.
     
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