French Leave

What is the origin of the expression French leave?

By Mr. Ian, Australia - 30th Jan.2007.

This is another example of how much the English hated the French. We guess we shouldn't be talking about this now, considering the fact the two have joined forces along with the United States to fight the Taliban. But historically the two nations couldn't stand each other. Even now it is not uncommon for an Englishman to refer to a Frenchman as a frog, because the French consider frog’s legs a delicacy. The term French postcards is used to refer to picture postcards with naked ladies on them. When someone uses foul language, you can hear the person saying pardon my French— thereby implying that the French had the habit of swearing.

When someone goes on French leave, he or she takes off without informing the authorities. According to the English, it was standard practice in France in the 18th Century to leave a ball or dinner without thanking the host and hostess. People left without even saying good-bye. The English felt that the French were people without manners. But what is interesting is that, taking leave of someone in this manner is referred to as English leave by the French! What the Americans call French postcards, the French call American postcards. It is interesting to note that countries, which have such a low opinion of one another, have come together to fight terrorism! I guess they don't mind the war of words.

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