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French Idiom: “Filer à l’anglaise” (To dash, do a runner)

French Idiom: “Filer à l’anglaise” (To dash, do a runner)

The French idiom filer à l’anglaise translates literally to “to dash off English style” and means “to dash off”, “to do a runner” or “to slip out/away”. French definitions include partir sans prevenir (to leave without warning) and partir sans dire au revoir (to leave without saying goodbye).

Filer à l’anglaise

to dash, do a runner

Filer à l'anglaise" (To dash, do a runner)

According to, The expression filler a l’anglaise dates back to 1890. The site suggests a theory that the expression somehow makes reference to an eel, an animal which is difficult to trap.

Another theory is that the expression is realated to the formerly used verb anglaiser, which means to steal. One last and most probably theory is that the expression in a French reaction to the English expression “to take French leave”.

Here’s an example sentence.

Martin et Julie ont fîlé à l’anglaise: Ils ont diné au restaurant sans payer l’addition!

Martin and Julie did a runner. They ate at a restaurant without paying the bill!

Here’s another example sentence:

Pierre a filé à l’anglaise très tôt le matin sans dire au revoir à sa petite copine.

Pierre slipped out very early in the morning without saying goodbye to his girlfriend.


Et voilà ! You now know how to use the expression filer à l’anglaise. Now have a look at our other fun posts covering the expressions avoir es dents longues (to be fiercely ambitious), être dans la lune (to have your head in the clouds) and avoir le cafard (to feel depressed).

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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