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The meaning and origin of the expression: Done a runner

Done a runner

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Done a runner'?

Left in a hurry.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Done a runner'?

From the practice of running out of restaurants in order to avoid paying the bill, or of running away from the police. This is a late 20th century coinage and is most commonly used in the UK.

The term runner has a suitably underworld ring to it. Two of the many meanings of the word are 'a fugitive on the run' - used by Shakespeare in Anthony and Cleopatra, 1606:

"Let us score their backes, 'Tis sport to maul a Runner."

and 'a spy who keeps lookout in a gambling den', as defined by Nathan Bailey in his An universal etymological English dictionary, 1726:

"Runner (of a Gaming House), one who is to get Intelligence of the Meetings of the Justices, and when the Constables are out."

There was little use of the term runner in either of those senses when this term was coined and the derivation has probably more to do with the perky rhyme than any deep sense of meaning.

See other - phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.

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