I am looking for a word or expression to mean running out of somewhere very fast because of being terrified of something, or to avoid meeting someone.


Here's a handy single word: flee. You may flee a place or a person or a threat.


Since you are looking also for an 'expression', I would suggest:

like a bat out of hell
if you go somewhere like a bat out of hell, you go very fast He ran out of the building like a bat out of hell.

(Ref. Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006.)

  • 3
    This was going to be my answer! First thing that popped to mind, and while the other answers are good this one is the best I think. +1! (Haha, I also just realized it's a bit of a coincidence that the question was posted by 'Batman' ;)) – WendiKidd Feb 10 '13 at 23:10
  • @WendiKidd, I suspect the idiom on BAT really struck Carlo_R's mind seeing the OP's name. :P – Mistu4u Feb 11 '13 at 4:10
  • Are you a meatloaf fan by any chance? – Steven Wood Aug 6 '14 at 11:58

In Northern English (e.g. Manchester, Liverpool), this phrase is quite common

When those guys showed up, we legged it.

In US informal English there's also "skedaddle":

When those guys showed up, we skedaddled outta there!

Perhaps more commonly you can always use an intensifier to impress upon the listener that you got out of there quickly:

When those guys showed up, we got the hell outta there!

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    Legging it is not only used in the north. – Tristan Sep 5 '13 at 13:39
  • @Tristan: +1, but it is more common on the North. – Matt Sep 5 '13 at 19:44

It always sounds a bit "slangy" to me, but a nice word for OP's context is...

skedaddle - to depart quickly or hurriedly; run away.

...another one I like (esp. US usage, also somewhat informal, as are most apart from flee) is...

high-tail it out of here deriving from the raised tails of fleeing animals (as deer or rabbits).

Similar terms include scarper, leg it, beat it, clear off.

  • FF, are they not all from American English? – Tristan Sep 5 '13 at 13:40
  • @Tristan: I hadn't realised until checking just now that skedaddle began as US military slang in the mid 1800s. Apparently beat it is also US (early C20), but scarper certainly seems to be of British origin, and I'm inclined to think leg it and clear off are too. Incidentally, in my link above, dictionary.com says of hightail it that this is an Americanism, 1885–90, but OED's first citation is significantly later, at 1925. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 5 '13 at 19:25
  • @FF: You're right about scarper. I overlooked that. I didn't know about the origin of clear off. I've hardly heard anyone use it. Regarding leg it, I commented about that under Matt's answer. – Tristan Sep 9 '13 at 15:56

You could use the verb bolt. NOAD defines it like this:

NOAD bolt

As a side note, in recent years, this option has been a very handy word for sports headlines.

  • Reminds me of [Usain Bolt](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usain_Bolt).Perhaps this word is made for him ;) – Mistu4u Feb 11 '13 at 4:12

(American) slang includes bail, scram, and vamoose.  Variations on get the hell outta there include get out of Dodge and get the hell out of DodgeRats leaving a sinking ship is maybe not exactly what you are looking for.


"Skip out" can be used in the said contexts as in

John was arrested July 22 after he skipped out on a $300 bill earlier at a local bar and ran away.

Macmillan dictionary defines it as a phrasal verb which means

to leave a place quickly, usually because you do not want to be noticed or want to avoid paying money

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    Along with slip out, and expressions like skip bail, I think the (relatively uncommon, imho) skip out is normally only used in contexts where you're avoiding onerous responsibilities (such having to speak to someone who bores you, or to pay for something). It doesn't sound like something you'd say if you were running away terrified of something. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 10 '13 at 22:05
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    @FumbleFingers - I agree that it may not be used in the "running away terrified" scenarios but OP did ask for "avoid meeting someone" scenario where it could still be used as that avoidance could be due to a multiplicity of reasons. – Mohit Feb 10 '13 at 22:48

There's the expression run off, as in:

"Run off to somewhere else!"

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