France commune

The beautiful escape and more expressions of escape in French

A search is underway to find a deer, which has become the mascot of a municipality in Hauts-de-France, which escaped from its enclosure on Monday December 13.

The deer, named Apollo, roams in the wild but was spotted near where he was found and cared for last year on Tuesday before being adopted by a local family.

The municipality of Lespesses invites anyone who sees it to contact either its owners directly (on 06 22 87 45 88) or the mayor Arnaud Picque (on 06 17 62 98 18).

Since news broke, the city’s Facebook post has been viewed more than 50,000 times and shared by more than 1,000 users.

We’re looking at three French expressions that mean ‘to escape’:

The beautiful escape (literally ‘to escape the beautiful[ly]’):

This expression means to escape through the skin of the teeth.

It has its origins in the game of “real tennis”, palm gamea precursor to tennis in which players hit a ball with the palms of their hands.

In the 15th century, it looks like who beautiful escaped him when a player misses a ball he could have touched. The ‘l’ in the phrase stood for the ball, hence the feminine form of the adjective beau, which at the time meant ‘well’ or ‘fine’.

Now the expression is fixed as the beautiful escapea form it took in the 17th century, and means narrowly escaping something.

Take the field key (literally ‘take the key from the fields’):

This expression also means “to escape” and dates from the Middle Ages. Fields signify a vast empty space and therefore represent freedom and independence.

Taking the key to the fields therefore meant opening the doors of freedom – escaping from captivity or restriction.

Get away (literally ‘to make the trunk’):

the trunk – a leather trunk, ancestor of the suitcase – this is what we used in the 20th century to pack our things when we went on vacation.

The expression se faire la malle was coined in prisons in the 1930s to refer to prisoners who escaped.

Nowadays it refers to any type of escape.

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