nounmass nouninformal, dated
Absence from work or duty without permission.
- ‘the caretaker had taken French leave’
- ‘I wouldn't get too worked up about this, you might have to take French leave to sort it out.’
- ‘I'm beginning to think you took a French leave from the Rangers.’
Mid 18th century said to derive from the French custom of leaving a dinner or ball without saying goodbye to the host or hostess. The phrase was first recorded shortly after the Seven Years War; the equivalent French expression is filer à l'Anglaise, literally ‘to escape in the style of the English’.