For UK folks: Being ''fired'' as in ''dismissed''

There is a question in GQ concerning the etymology of “being fired.” I was a little surprised to see that it seems to be an American coingage dating from the late 1800s, where the editors of OED disdainfully labeled it as slang–not unusual if it wasn’t in common use in the 1920s, when my edition was compiled.

Simple question (a little too simple for GQ): Is “fired” as in “dismissed from employment” a common term in the UK, now.

pretty common but i wouldn’t say its any more common than any other term - “sacked” for example.

FWIW, I’ve seen “sacked” with increasing frequency in U.S. news reports. It’s still rare, but it’s definitely starting to catch on, at least a little. And no, the stories haven’t been about U.K. subjects; it’s been strictly a U.S. usage with reference to U.S. topics.

I like it. It’s abstractly onomatopoetic, if that makes sense.

I haven’t made a study of this, but off the top of my head I’d say the terms most in use would be “was made redundant”, then “was laid off” and then “was sacked” or “got the sack”. Those last two might carry perjorative overtones (that you’d been dismissed for incompetence or for disciplinary reasons rather than because your company needed to save money) but it might also be said by a person who was bitter about the decision whatever the reason they’d been given.

Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a British person claiming to have “been fired” but everybody would know what they meant if they did say it and I don’t think it would sound foreign or particularly odd. It would carry the same perjorative overtones as “sacked” though.

I suppose there would be a parallel with the use of “sacked” in American Football as opposed to being substituted out of the game – neither is something you wanted to happen but only one is likely to be your fault?

I actually saw them refer to someone as being fired on The Office the other day (on BBC America… god I love that channel). I didn’t know until just now that it wasn’t a common saying over there.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone in the US say “sacked” though I have heard “canned”.

Here in the US, I seem to hear sacked more often regarding higher level corporate types, as in “Shortly after the IPO, the CEO and three VP’s were sacked…” etc.

If anyone cares, ‘fired’ & ‘sacked’ are both in common usage down here :slight_smile: I’ve also heard ‘booted’, ‘canned’ and ‘marched’, though not as often as the first two.

Ditto Goo although canned gets a good work out down here.
Right sized is also popular at the moment.
Terminated is also going around.

Typical, you can’t have a decent “Northern Hemisphere only” conversation these days without the bloody Aussies trying to chip in…


Well that’s only because we probably like to think we’re an extension of the UK. We are after all part of the Commonwealth.

My last two places of employment preferred the term “separated.” I think because it does not imply fault to either party. Also common is “let go,” as in

“I heard Johnson was let go?”
“Yes, he embezzled a billion dollars, so we had to let him go.”

It confused me the first couple of times I heard “made redundant.” It’s just such a damn bleak phrase. To me, “I was fired,” just means I lost my job. “I was made redundant” sounds like I should be questioning my life on an existential level. (Or am I just thinking too much?:))