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

On this page, we are going to teach you everything you want to know about the funny idiom “Il a filé à l’anglaise”.

It includes a detailed guide of what it is and how to use it in a normal conversation with an audio example. And because we want you to learn efficiently, we also sprinkled some super useful stuff like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio, synonym and more!

Oh and before I forget, on this page you will find more of these idioms explained plus all our French words guides on this page. Ready to learn? C’est parti ! (Let’s go!)

Table of Contents

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English translation

How to pronounce?

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

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 and similarities

  • 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)

Audio dialogue example

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

” Ton frère est encore dans sa chambre ? “
” Is you brother still in his room? “
” Non, il a filé à l’anglaise ! “
” No, he left English style! “
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