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I'm looking for an expression to describe the action of someone suddenly walking away in the middle of a conversation with another person, because, for instance, s/he has been offended by something that was said. I thought one could say "to walk off on someone" or "to walk away on someone", but I didn't find many examples with that sentence construction online. Are those expressions correct or is there a proper way to say this?

Thanks in advance.

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  • Yes, to "walk away on" someone is to deliberately walk away from them in the midst of a conversation; it's a symbolic gesture of an attitude towards the speaker (whether that be contempt, disregard, rebelliousness, feeling offended, whatever).
    – TRomano
    Jul 22, 2015 at 13:10

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There aren't that many written instances in Google Books, so the relative ratios here might not be statistically significant, but...

Don't you walk off on me! - 11 hits
Don't you walk away on me! - 4 hits

...reflects my gut feel that the former is more common for contexts where you're admonishing someone for "leaving mid-conversation". Far more common overall is...

Don't you walk out on me! - 581 hits

...but many (almost certainly most) of those will be for the "broader" context of leaving a relationship (or at least, something less ephemeral than an ongoing conversational interaction).

There are various "slang" usages, such as cut [someone dead], blank, and idiomatic usages such as cold-shoulder, turn your back [on someone].

For a more standard/formal term you could go for ignore or synonyms, but I can't think of anything in that register that specifically implies physically absenting oneself as a way of avoiding having to listen to whatever the other person is saying.

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  • @Tamori: Actually, I just realized that I only bothered with variants of to walk + preposition + indirect object where the preposition is on. The third example above (the most "figurative", used for "dumping" a long-term partner, for example) would invariably use on, but for the far more "literal" sense of the first two, you'd probably be more likely to use the "naturally literal" preposition from. They're all used though, and it's really just a matter of opinion whether some people think certain variants only have certain specific meanings. Jul 22, 2015 at 16:29
  • So basically "walk away from me"? That seems like the literal description of the action without really capturing the snubbing effect. The "on" sort of conveys that, like in the expression "hang up on someone".
    – Tamori
    Jul 22, 2015 at 16:35
  • @Tamori: You've got it! If you're not a native speaker, you certainly have a good grasp of the general tendency to use on in such contexts where the intention is to convey (often, simultaneously with the literal sense) that the action itself is directed towards the target. There's something of that distinction in some contexts relating to “Wait on” vs “wait for” as previously asked here on ELU. But do note that not everyone will recognise or implement such a nuance. Jul 22, 2015 at 16:47

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