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

On this page, we are going to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about the funny idiom "Il a filé à l'anglaise". To be more precise, this includes a full explanation of what it is and how you can use it in everyday life with an audio example. Plus, we also added some useful stuff like dialogue example, synonym, slow pronunciation audio and more!

English translation

  • Translation : He sneaked out

  • Literal meaning : He left English style

  • Register : Informal - Funny

How to pronounce?



  • IPA : / il a file a lɑ̃ɡlɛːz /

aesthetic french quote filer a anglaise

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What does it mean exactly?


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

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".

Synonyms / Related

↓ Example in a story with translation ↓

Finally, let's see an example in a parallel story with slow audio.

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.
AliceAdam. 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...
AliceEuh, Jacques. Où est Adam ?
Uh, Jacques. Where's Adam?
JacquesIl est parti il y a cinq minutes.
He left five minutes ago.


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Il fait un froid de canard


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Oh la vache !

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