2

I believe the expression "du balai" means literally "of the broom".

How did it acquire the meaning of "go away!" or "get lost!"?

5

Du doesn't mean "of the" here but is closer to "some" in "give me some".

The balai is used as a metaphor. The person to whom du balai is addressed is asked to be swept out by this imaginary broom.

The expression seems to have first appeared by the end of the 19th century in the play "Une opposition" (In Un Client sérieux, 1897) by Georges Courteline, a famous writer of Théâtre de boulevard. Maybe Courteline created it or perhaps it was already used.

1
  • Wonderful! Thank you! What is your source for the expression's first appearance? I ask because I expect this source to be the kind of reference resource I like to bookmark! – kjo Jun 12 '20 at 13:31

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