A short dialogue from the movie Extraterrestrial (2014):

— It's been ten years, Alan. Now look. I mean no disrespect, but it is time to face reality, man. She left you.

— People have been trying to convince me that she just split town, just took off with another guy. People have been saying it so long I almost believed it myself, but now I know what happened.

I've been searching online and couldn't find this idiom in any dictionary. Though, from the context I think I can infer that it probably means something like skipped town, which is a real idiom. Am I on the right track with this?

  • 2
    Yes, you're on the right track. Did you try looking up split by itself? Check out Meaning #6 in Collins, or Meaning #4 in Macmillan.
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 12:41
  • "Let's split this scene." Scram. Vamoose. Get outta here. Leave. Depart. It's slang that was in use as late as the 1970s.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 12:42
  • 5
    @TRomano It's slang that was in use at late as last Monday. I know because that's the last time I used it.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 15:28
  • 2
    @Dan Bron: Then you're an old fuddy-duddy, according to Macmillan, and you're probably misremembering. It only seems like last Monday.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 18:28
  • 1
    My 60-something BF uses "split" when he's either trying to be hip or forgetting that he might not be quite so hip any more. My 50-something self remembers "split" as slang that older hippies used when I was a kid; and as part of a series of puns: "Hey, man, let's make like a tree and leave," "Hey, man, let's make like the wind and blow;""Hey man, let's make like a banana and split."
    – Evelyn
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 16:47

2 Answers 2


A meaning of split that is at least bordering on slang that means to leave somewhere, often quickly or without caring to tell anyone (see def. 13 here).

This party is boring. Let's split.

I haven't seen them around. They must have split.

So split town in this sense means to leave town. Split town itself isn't an idiom or well-known phrase.

  • 3
    skipped town is an idiom with roughly the same meaning, but it implies a negative reason for leaving: "The thieves skipped town."
    – user428517
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 17:26

My guess would be that this is a mild slip of the tongue: the script said "skipped town," the actor said "split town," and the director said it was close enough not to demand doing another take.

Ultrasawblade's answer is entirely correct, and I will just add:

"Split" as slang for "leave, go away" had mostly fallen out of use by the mid-to-late 1970's.

As I remember the usage, one might split to somewhere (e.g., many draft dodgers split to Canada), but one seldom split from a specified place. Usually it was just something like "Look, man, I gotta split" - the non-specificity being part of an informality that could border on being rude, or cross well over that border and be entirely so.

Contrast with "to blow" in its slang sense of "to leave." While even more outdated, it was often used with a specified point of departure:

"If I don't find me a honey/To help me spend my money/I'm gonna have to blow this town." (Sam Cooke, 1963)

"C'mon, let's blow this popsicle stand." (My next-door neighbor, circa 1979. "Popsicle stand" was not meant literally, but could refer to any place she did not care to remain.)

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