So long, farewell... goodbye

With everyone talking about Brexit, we thought you might enjoy some French expressions based around leaving and saying goodbye.

There is even an idiom with an English reference in it. Filer à l’anglaise meaning to leave discreetly, slip out without being noticed – something the UK looks unlikely to achieve.

The expression comes from an old verb, anglaiser, which meant to steal. Filer à l’anglaise originally referred to the way a robber would make a swift getaway from the scene of a crime.

There are five main French verbs that mean to leave: partirs’en allersortirquitter and laisserPartir is also used euphemistically to mean to die, to pass away.

Sortir means to go out, or get out of something, quitter to leave someone or something, and laisser is used to leave something behind or to leave someone alone.

S’en aller has an informal style to it and means to go away. You might use je m’en vais when it’s time to head home after a long night out with friends, but you would be less likely to use it at the end of a meeting with your bank manager.

More colloquial still is je me casse or je me tire (I’m out of here). Use among close friends – it might come across as rather offensive in a formal setting such as a round-table Brexit negotiating session at the European Council.

Flipped round the other way, casse-toi means get lost or get stuffed – as famously used by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy when he told a heckler at the Paris agriculture fair to casse-toi, pauv’ con.

Time to say goodbye? The most common, au revoir, implies that you will see each other again – soon if you use à plus tardà bientôt or à tout à l’heure. Parting company for good? Then the word you are looking for, not to be used lightly, is adieu.

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