How to translate "French leave" into French?

I have searched for the translation on wordreference.com and Google separately but they both showed different results.

According to wordreference.com “French leave” translates to “filer à l'anglaise“, but if I consider the meaning of "leave" alone in French, it says congé. I am confused.

  • 1
    "To leave" and "to take a leave" has different translations in French. The correct one here is filer à l'anglaise. And generally, you shouldn't rely on Google Translate for idiomatic expressions. May 24, 2018 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


The expression is indeed filer à l'anglaise (backed up by Wiktionnaire).

I don't think there's a specific noun for this. If I were translating something like "Where is he?" — "On French leave" I would just use the past tense: « Où est-il ? » — « Il a filé à l'anglaise. »

In general, a dictionary with a dedicated entry for an idiom should be trusted over Google Translate, in my experience. You really don't know what mélange of contexts the latter has found equivalents in, or if it even knows it should take the two words as a whole.

Also, don't worry about "leave" = congé on its own. Since "French leave" is an idiom, there's no way to guess the meaning from the parts alone. congé + français won't add up to "French leave" and it doesn't have to.

  • "leave" may also mean permission (pour un militaire)
    – XouDo
    Jun 11, 2021 at 9:02

First of all, French leave is not used so often nowadays according to https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/french-leave

More information may be found here.

In any case according to https://www.linguee.com/english-french/search?source=auto&query=french+leave

a one to one translation might be

filer à la française

But a googling reveals that French people use

filer à l'anglaise

instead. I think it has to do with the traditional (at least in the past) Franco-British rivalry.

Si en français, prendre la fuite se dit "filer à l'anglaise", en anglais, on utilise la réciproque en disant "to take french leave".


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