beat a hasty retreat

beat a hasty retreat

Meaning | Synonyms

  • abandon something (speedily)
  • to leave a place because it is dangerous or unpleasant
  • to withdraw oneself from a situation (usually a negative one)
  • beat a hasty retreat
  • runoff
  • run away
  • head off
  • flee
  • escape

Example Sentences

  1. Once I realized that John was going to be at the party, I beat a hasty retreat.
  2. After spotting my ex-boss in the restaurant, I beat a hasty retreat.
  3. My wife seems to be in a very bad mood today. I am going to beat a hasty retreat before I make it worse.
  4. The courier boy beat a hasty retreat when he heard the dog's furious barking from the back of the house.


The phrase has been used since the 1300s. In earlier times a drum would be used to signal to soldiers that fighting was done for the day and it was time to retire to bed. Today it is only used in a figurative way.

One of the earliest examples of the phrase can be found in the Kentish Gazette from 1827:

"and obliged to beat a hasty retreat across the rope-walk to the sea..."

The earliest reference to the action, however, is noted in this command from an officer in the Army of James II in 1690:

"The generalle [the signal to get up and start fighting again] to be beateatt 3 clock in ye morning. Ye retreate to beateatt 9 att night…"

The word retreat comes from the Old French word retrait, meaning "to draw back."

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Contribution & Thoughts 1

Can I have more example to get more understand?

- Jessica October 31, 2018

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