French leave

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Q-cumber, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. Q-cumber

    Q-cumber Senior Member

    In English, an idiomatic phrase French leave describes the act of leaving a party without telling good bye to the informal, hasty, or secret act of leaving.
    Funnily enough, such a behaviour is called English leave in Russian: уйти по-английски <literally: take English leave> , "уйти не прощаясь"

    So, the question is: how would you call this in your language? Please attach a verbatim translation, if possible.
  2. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    I would say verdwijnen als een dief in de nacht 'to disappear as a thief in the night' for Dutch. But there may be a more specific idiom that I don't know.
  3. heaa Member

    Hungary, Hungarian

    Hungarian: 'angolosan távozik' , which is something like:
    take English leave, leave like an Englishman, leave in an English style, etc.

    I have no idea about the origin of the phrase.
  4. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    In French, the saying is "filer à l'anglaise", or "depart in the English style". :)
  5. Q-cumber

    Q-cumber Senior Member

    Probably, the truth is in the middle. :)
  6. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    The same kind of Finnish idiom was the first one to pop into my mind, too: lähteä varkain, which would literally translate to something like "to leave with (the aid of) thieves".
  7. Angel.Aura

    Angel.Aura del Mod, solo L'aura

    Roma, Italia
    In Italian:
    - andarsene all'inglese (literally lo leave in the English style).
  8. kusurija

    kusurija Senior Member

    Lithuania, K. city
    Lithuania Czech
    In Czech: Zmizet po anglicku.
    I'm not sure, if it means exactly the same. Word-by-word: To disappear (vamose) in English manner. I thing, it is more often applied if s/o vamose without paying or similar.
  9. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Portuguese: sair à francesa (to leave the French way).
  10. palomnik Senior Member

    I think the terms French leave and filer à l'anglaise both originated in the military to describe desertion - hence the stigma that the English and the French attach to it by pointing the fingers at each other. The fact that most European languages have the term as some variation on "English leave" is due to French influence throughout Europe.
  11. Q-cumber

    Q-cumber Senior Member

    Hi palomnik
    I've found this explanation in the web:
  12. palomnik Senior Member

    Q, my original guess was based on the fact that "French leave" was used until at least World War II in the British Army for desertion.
  13. Tchesko

    Tchesko Senior Member

    Paris 12

    It took me some time to find this thread so I'll revive it...

    Some other translations taken from Wiktionary:

    - German: französischen Abschied nehmen (take French leave)
    - Polish: wyjść po angielsku (take English leave)
    - Spanish: irse a la francesa (take French leave)

    Note that:
    - Slavic languages (at least Czech, Polish, Russian) seem to prefer the "English style" way of leaving;
    - there seems to be no Europe-wide trend in choosing between "English-style" vs. "French-style" leaving and some languages (Dutch, Finnish...) seem to use neither expression.
  14. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:

    1/ «Φεύγω αλά γαλλικά» ['fevɣo a'la ɣali'ka]
    lit. "to leave alla French"

    v. «φεύγω» ['fevɣo] --> to leave, flee, be on the run < Classical v. «φεύγω» pʰeúgō --> to leave, flee, escape, be on the run (PIE *bʰeūg-, to flee; cf Lat. fugere, to flee > It. fuggire, Fr. fuir, Por. fugir, Sp. huir)

    «αλά» [a'la] --> Italian alla

    2/ «Με ελαφρά πηδηματάκια» [me ela'fra piðima'taca]
    lit. "(to leave is omitted) with gentle hops" (i.e. to leave unnoticed, without anyone knowing)
  15. Rallino Moderatoúrkos


    Zengin kalkışı
    : Rich leave (The way rich people leave)
  16. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Tagalog , French leave is "Umalis ng walang pasabi".
  17. Q-cumber

    Q-cumber Senior Member

    • (c) Wiki
  18. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    I can't think of a similar phrase in Swedish using French or English leave, my guess is "smita ut köksvägen" (slip out (through) the kitchen door) would be the closest when leaving a party without saying goodbye.

    As for taking leave from the military without permission, that's "att ta bondpermis" (to take farmer's leave).
  19. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    Too bad, Wiki is becoming better than WR...
  20. oksidor

    oksidor New Member

    Heard this phrase a lot (the Englishman variety), never wondered about its origins. While there's no common view about it, the most reasonable I've reserached was a reference to the 7 years' war where the British coined the phrase "French leave" about the deserting French, and the French naturally said, au-contraire:)
    It is indeed very common here in Russia, and it is interesting to see how although not widely known in England it seems to be so on point, as many English in forum discussions honestly can't grasp how trying not to make a fuss by leaving can be perceived by anyone as negative behavior:)
    And the phrase has even established itself in the local humor. As the Russian Jewish like to joke about themselves, the true Englishman leaves without saying goodbye, and the true Jew says goodbye but never leaves:)
  21. Penyafort

    Penyafort Senior Member

    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Apparently it could also come from an 18th-century habit of leaving a party sans adieu among the French upper classes, right before the Revolution took place.

    In Catalan: anar-se'n a la francesa or marxar a la francesa.
    (The DCVB mentions a work of the beginning of the 20th century as a possible first source for it in Catalan, so the expression might have entered the language as a calque from another, possibly Spanish, in which it is already attested in a work of 1850 according to the CORDE)
  22. 810senior

    810senior Senior Member

    In Japanese, there's no specific or matching phrase like the above. We'd just say it, monotonously and tediously, like "無断欠席する(to absent oneself with no notice)" or "途中退席する(to leave midway, it can mean apparently to French leave, depending on situation)", as for vulgarer expressions, we'd also say "途中でばっくれる(to skip or ditch midways)", "ひょろっといなくなる(to disappear like a gust of wind)", "勝手に帰る(to go home of one's accord)" and so on.
  23. twinklestar

    twinklestar Senior Member

    In Chinese, 不辞而别 bu ci er bie

    不=bu ( No, without)
    辞=ci (say (goodbye)
    而=er (but)
    别=bie (leave)

    no say but leave
  24. Holger2014 Senior Member

    German has the verb sich davonstehlen.

    In modern German, stehlen means 'to steal' so the expression sounds like 'to steal oneself off'. Apparently stehlen used to have a broader meaning ('to do something secretly', 'to sneak' etc).
  25. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Dutch: de plaat poetsen would be another expression (cleaning the plate or something the like), but that might suggest guilt.

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