I've heard that Brexit has become an everyday verb in French. Apparently Brexiter is:

'a verb used to announce to everyone that you are leaving, but without going anywhere’

and there's even a little cartoon to go along with it:


Has this usage crept into the English language? I'm surprised that it's getting more pull in French.

  • I'll note that the literal meaning of "brexit" is well known in the US, but I have never heard it used in a metaphorical sense (though it would probably be understood if used).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 20:42
  • That cartoon is only about the verbal use of je brexite in French. I don't see how it implies that brexit has become an English verb. Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 1:27

6 Answers 6


The main use of “Brexit” as a verb is just to describe the UK going through Brexit:

Brexit is also used in a transferred way, as a synonym to exit:

I’m not convinced that there’s another meaning to the verb (not in English and not in French either).

Urban Dictionary has this definition:

Verb: Brexiting

The act of telling everyone at a gathering (party, meeting ... etc.), that you are leaving, but actually staying.

Theresa is at the party, brexiting near the fridge for over an hour now

The problem with Urban Dictionary is that upvotes there can mean that something is funny, rather than that it is actually used by people in that manner.

Looking at Twitter, the definition (and a similar one from somewhere else) is quoted a lot:

On the other hand, it’s hard to find examples of anyone using it like that. I found maybe one but it’s not really clear if it constitutes an English example:

  • There is a video clip, it's probably a meme now, which has been making the rounds and has been sent to all expats (myself included). It shows Laurel and Hardy in a car with a group of friends (The UK) saying goodbye to their neighbours (Europe) before they set off somewhere. Only thing is, they can't leave because the "goodbyes" never seem to end. Finally, Hardy starts to drive away, but within seconds the car gets a flat tire and they are stuck in the exact same point. It's a very funny clip :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 22:01
  • youtube.com/watch?v=ETPN9cFUo58
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 22:05

In the UK, it has become increasingly difficult for people to tolerate the word Brexit, so it is becoming somewhat less frequently heard. People have started to talk about the B word.

You can see examples in this recent Bloomberg post and this City AM article from last year.


I would think that is intended as a joke at the UK's expense.

You do hear various new or jocular coinings of Blank-exit


Here in the UK, Brexiter (as well as Brexiteer) refers to someone who supports Brexit. It is not a verb.

  • While true, this doesn't really answer the question. The -er suffix is just the infinitive in French, so in English, we'd say "has to Brexit become a verb".
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 9:06

I'm not surprised it's gained more traction in France (and therefore French) than in the UK. In the rest of Europe, people may see a confused and dithering UK, but on these islands, regarding this topic, seeing the UK as one entity isn't guaranteed.

The quoted meaning ('to announce to everyone that you are leaving, but without going anywhere') is logical when you see the UK as a single confused character (like the Breton version of Obelix pictured, or the drunk whose "one for the road" turns into a drinking session), but not when you see mainly the divisions.

A single meaning would be harder to pin down here, where people are divided in their views. I might define it as futilely attempting to follow through on an impossible promise; some would define it as failing to deliver the will of the people; still others might say it's asking a stupid question without knowing how you'd implement the answer; many could agree it's messy (etc.).

So, as a verb with this meaning, I haven't come across it in English (and probably would have done if it was common). When it is used as a verb, it simply refers to Britain leaving the EU, but the noun form is much more common: Even the (few) vocal Leave voters I see writing on Facebook would be more likely to demand that we "get on with Brexit", or "get on and leave", rather than "get on and Brexit"


Apparently its usage as a verb has informally extended outside politics:

Definition: Brexit (verb)

– to take the action of leaving somewhere or something, often to prove a point, even though the result of that leaving may be largely detrimental to one’s own situation.

Example 1: John and Wendy brexited the fine dining restaurant because they had waited half an hour for drinks, despite knowing full well that the only alternative in their local area was KFC.

Example 2: The UK brexited the EU due to fears over immigration and laws implemented from overseas, despite there being no independent, reliable studies indicating that the people of the UK would be in a better or equal situation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.