English's "veer" descended from French's virer. How is virer (or veering) related to unemployment?

Based on English, I am surmising that you are "veered off" employment? English's "veer" doesn't mean UNemploy. But "veer" can be used to describe your employment! I link to these websites just as examples — I am not affiliated or promoting them.

veer (v.) on Etymonline

1580s, "to change direction" (originally of the wind; 1610s of a ship),
from French virer "to turn" (12c.), of uncertain origin,
perhaps (Diez) from the Latin stem vir- in viriae (plural) "bracelets." Gamillscheg finds von Wartburg's derivation of it from a Vulgar Latin contraction of Latin vibrare "to shake" to be nicht möglich.

Etymology on Wiktionary

From Vulgar Latin *virō, probably from Latin vibrō (in which case it is a doublet of vibrer) or possibly from an alteration of gȳrō. Compare Italian virare, Spanish virar. Or, possibly from Gaulish *viru (“to deviate, veer off”), itself derived from viros (“round, crooked”).

  • In a nautical context, the word virer is perfectly polite. The words “Virez à tribord !” mean “Turn to starboard !”. But it is definitely not polite in an (end of) employment context.
    – jpmarinier
    Jul 18, 2022 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


Virer means to cease to employ, to dismiss someone. I wasn't aware of the verb "to unemploy", especially with that meaning.

Anyway, there are several other ways to say it in French like licencier, renvoyer, mettre à la porte, foutre dehors, congédier, limoger, slacker (Québec), remercier... just like in English to fire, dismiss, terminate, lay off, sack, make redundant, throw out, show the door, can, pink slip, downsize...

In the case of virer, the meaning is straigthforward: to quickly change the direction of someone's career.

  • Thanks. You know that I know there are "there are several other ways to say it in French like licencier, renvoyer". Because you answered my other question on renvoyer!
    – user30800
    Jul 18, 2022 at 9:05
  • Yes, I know it now but I didn't when I wrote this reply.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 18, 2022 at 9:08
  • Limoger is the one with the most interesting etymology.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 18, 2022 at 9:46
  • 2
    I don’t think ‘change the direction of someone’s career’ is how virer came to mean ‘fire’. It seems more likely that it comes from ‘turn’ > ‘turn away’ > ‘send away’ > ‘fire’. TLFi illustrates this development in the senses under II A: [1] tourner retourner (arch.); [2] déplacer d'un mouvement tournant; [4] a changer quelque chose de place, lancer avec brusquerie, b faire sortir quelqu'un d'un lieu violemment; mettre à la porte, en partic. renvoyer quelqu'un de la situation qu'il occupe, congédier. Jul 18, 2022 at 15:20
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet Yes. I made a shortcut between the direction the employee is sent to and the new direction of their career. In both cases, it's indeed a turn.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 18, 2022 at 15:51

"Virer" means "to turn". Think of "I turn you back"

  • Bienvenue sur French language SE. Can you include more information about how this addresses the question? Please do take a moment to tour the site and see the help center.
    – livresque
    Jul 20, 2022 at 20:38

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