To Retire In The French Style

Americans and Englishmen have a long military history with the French, fighting with, for, and against them. The anglosphere's general contempt for French martial spirit is well known, but did you know it has spilled over into other tongues?

If your first thought is German, you might be right, but I wouldn't know.

I can report to you, however, that in Portuguese, whenever a person leaves an uncomfortable or incommodious situation precipitously and/or furtively, he is leaving "in the french style" (à francesa). There is some debate over whether the phrase arose from military or social origins, but I think that is mostly because today the phrase is used socially.

I was reminded of the phrase when reading a Brazilian history book which tongue-in-cheek described the French retreat from Portugal in 1808 as being "in the French style". How else would they do it, I suppose?

Poor French guys.