Bail – What does “Bail” mean in British slang?

Hello and Welcome back to Slang with me Louisa May Adams. This show will give you the chance to hear, understand the origins and meanings of new slang and to use it immediately! So let’s get started…

Have you ever been to a boring party? Stuck with the same music and dry conversation on repeat? Then it’s time to tell your mates to bail! Confusing right? Why am I talking about jail and money at this party, well let me explain…

In formal english bail B-A-I-L is a noun meaning the temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial, sometimes on condition of paying a sum of money. However as slang bail means to leave, cancel or back out of something.

Historically as a noun, bail means bond money. This comes from the Middle English word bayle B-A-Y-L-E meaning “captivity.” As a verb bailing is the act of pushing water out of a sinking boat. These two meanings presented of escaping and surviving guide us to how we use it today in slang.

As slang we use as a verb, to cancel something or leave somewhere.

For example: “I’m so annoyed Lizzy bailed on the party tonight!” Meaning Lizzy is not coming to the party, she cancelled last minute.

Or “This festival is so boring, let’s bail”. Meaning I’m bored lets leave!

So start using it today! The next time your at a boring party, turn to your english friends and say let’s bail! They will know exactly what you mean and you will be out in no time!

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Let’s catch up soon to explore our next slang word.