retire on tiptoe


Senior Member
Hello friends of the forum,

I was wondering if the phrase in the title can be or is actually used metaphorically in English (as it is in French).
For instance, if we had a discussion and I were proved wrong or if I realized I had said something utterly stupid, could I then say...
OK, I can see I was wrong. I will now retire on tiptoe. a kind of self-derisory tone, meaning "I will retire from the discussion and try to be as unnoticed as possible"? Would you find that weird, would you frown? Would you immediately understand what I mean? Have you ever heard it used this way?
Is there any other similar metaphor that you could use for the same purpose?

Any input appreciated.
  • dobes

    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    I would find it absolutely hilarious! I would understand its meaning in the context given, but I have never heard it say that way, and I don't know of any universal phrase that would cover it, except, maybe "I'll go sit in the corner now".

    We often use "retire" as the formal version of "go to bed", so I might understand that, in your embarrassment, you wanted to slip quietly from the room and go to bed!


    yeh i understand when you explained but it what not be a suitable phrase in this language and most people wouldn't get you..quite a natrual english phrase would be "I'l keep my mouth shut from now on" which is mildly humorous


    Senior Member
    Hi Jean-Michel,

    We don't use that expression in AE, though I suppose it would be understood if uttered by such
    luminaries as M Le Pen or Alberto Gonzalez, following their recent displays of .......

    What might an AE speaker say when proved wrong, or following the realization that his or her remark was really stupid? We might resort to humor: Please pass the salt. It will make the crow go down easier. (The reference is to 'eat crow' —eat crow, Informal. to be forced to admit to having made a mistake, as by retracting an emphatic statement; suffer humiliation: His prediction was completely wrong, and he had to eat crow. Random House Unabridged)

    Surely others will offer more alternatives.


    Senior Member
    After another few seconds of deep reflection, I've come up with some alternatives:

    —I'll just leave quietly now. (spoken in a soft, embarrassed voice.)
    —Shoot me now!


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Sneak out while no-one's looking?
    Slink away with my tail between my legs?

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