The French idiom "Il a filé à l'anglaise" explained

Are you ready to find out everything you have to know about the basic expression “Il a filé à l’anglaise”?

To be more precise, it includes a complete guide of what it is and how you can use it in a dialogue with an audio example. Not to mention the useful informations we sprinkled like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, literal meaning and more!

Oh and more of these expressions are available on this page and all our French words tutorials on this page. Wish you a good learning!

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Translation in English

Audio pronunciation

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean exactly?


  • Filer → To leave discreetly / To sneak out
  • à l’anglaise → English style

To be more precise, it means: “To leave discreetly, like a thief“.

But why “English style” then? Because of… France vs. England legendary rivalry. The most popular explanation being that French people used it as a revenge for the British expression “to take a French leave“. 

To be fair, there are other theories about where this idiom is coming from. For example, the old French verb “Anglaiser” means “To steal” and we think people said “Filer à l’anglaise” to say “Leave like a thief“.

How to use it

Let’s imagine your brother was supposed to wash the dishes, but he “disappeared” silently. Then you would say “Il a filé à l’Anglaise !” (He left English style!). 

And would probably have to wash the dishes instead, while thinking about how you can “take an English leave“.


  • S’enfuir à l’anglaise. (“Take an English escape“)
  • Partir comme un voleur. (“To leave like a thief“)
  • J’ai filé à l’anglaise. (“I left English style“)
  • Elle a filé à l’anglaise. (“She left English style“)
  • Tu as filé à l’anglaise. (“You left English style“)
  • Vous avez filé à l’anglaise. (“You left English style“)(More polite)

Example in a story with translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Avoir un ami bizarre
To have a weird friend
Alice a invité son ami Adam pour le brunch.
Alice invited her friend Adam over for brunch.
Elle le présente à Jacques.
She introduces him to Jacques.
Alice:   Adam. Voici mon frère Jacques. Jacques, voici mon ami Adam.
Adam. This is my brother Jacques. Jacques, this is my friend Adam.
Elle les laisse discuter et va chercher une limonade.
She lets them talk and goes to get a lemonade.
Quelques minutes plus tard, elle revient…
A few minutes later, she comes back…
Alice:   Euh, Jacques. Où est Adam ?
Uh, Jacques. Where’s Adam?
Jacques:   Il est parti il y a cinq minutes.
He left five minutes ago.
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