Appeler sous les drapeaux

Appeler sous les drapeaux
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French Expression

Meaning to draft, conscript, call to arms
Literally to call under the flags
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Pronunciation [ah p(eu) lay soo lay drah po]
IPA   [a pə le su le dra po]

Usage notes: The French expression appeler sous les drapeaux (along with its equivalent noun, l’appel sous les drapeaux) is a rather poetic way of talking about drafting people into military service.

Par exemple…

L’armée de réserve a été appelée sous les drapeaux.   The reserve army was called into service.
Jusqu’en 1997, tous les Français se sont vus appeler sous les drapeaux.   Until 1997, all Frenchmen were conscripted (obliged to serve in the military).

 The system of universal military service required all young men to serve in the military, during times of both war and peace. If you’re not afraid of legalese, you can read the full text of the law that ended it here: Loi n°97-1019 du 28 octobre 1997 portant réforme du service national

Synonyms: convoquer, enrôler

Sous les drapeaux can be used with other verbs to indicate any sort of military activity; for example:

  • combattre sous les drapeaux – to fight with the colors, to serve the flag
  • être sous les drapeaux – to be doing one’s military service
  • rester sous les drapeaux – to stay in the military, to continue fighting
  • servir sous les drapeaux – to serve in the military
  • se ranger sous les drapeaux – to serve in the military

Figuratively, se ranger sous les drapeaux de quelqu’un means "to side with someone."

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