exit stage left

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From the direction in theatrical scripts: "Exit stage left", marking the disappearance of a character from the stage in the normal manner.


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exit stage left (plural exits stage left)

  1. (idiomatic) An orderly and uneventful departure, timed so as not to detract or distract.
    • 2001, Phil Jackson, Charles Rosen, More Than a Game[1]:
      We played until our fellow participants began to reenter the gym. Then we pulled on our shirts, left the ball for dead on the foul line, and made a quick exit stage left.
    • 2005, Dan Ephron, Joanna Chen, Israel: Peres—Exit Stage Left[2]:
      But like the career paths of so many Israeli politicians, his exit stage left was really a prelude to entering stage right: "I'll continue to serve," Peres told NEWSWEEK...


exit stage left (third-person singular simple present exits stage left, present participle exiting stage left, simple past and past participle exited stage left)

  1. To exit or disappear in a quiet, non-dramatic fashion, making way for more interesting events.
    • 1998: C.M. from Manitowac, WI, Mike and Carrie [3]
      DAYS teased us with Mike and Carrie all through Carrie and Austin's honeymoon, and continues to tease us today as the newlyweds settle into everyday life. Austin better exit stage left soon, and give Carrie and Mike a chance for love.
    • 2004, Setsunai, chapter IV, in On Gaien Higashi Dori: The Bells[4]:
      "Bears are at their most dangerous when taken by surprise... If you do happen to come across one, you should exit stage left at normal pace (you won't outrun a bear) and without your picnic basket.".
  2. (imperative) Leave the scene, and don't make a fuss.
    • 1974: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, Nutrition and Human Needs--1972 [5]
      Exit stage left 47 dead bodies of the 112 known people who suffered from the unexplained attacks. This is a mortality rate of 42 percent.

See also[edit]