There are 3 main definitions of fly in English:

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fly 1

Pronunciation: /flʌɪ/

verb (flies, flying; past flew /fluː/; past participle flown /fləʊn/)

[no object]
1(Of a bird, bat, or insect) move through the air using wings: close the door or the moths will fly in the bird can fly enormous distances
More example sentences
  • What was also surprising was the number of insects still flying and giving the birds a good meal.
  • In rainy periods, when few insects are flying, the birds switch to ground feeding.
  • She walked past neat gardens and tidy houses, watching small birds bath in bird baths, insects fly around flowers and people inside their air conditioned houses.
travel through the air, wing its way, wing, glide, soar, wheel;
flutter, flit;
hover, hang;
take wing, take to the air, mount
1.1(Of an aircraft or its occupants) travel through the air: I fly back to London this evening
More example sentences
  • When an airplane is flying, it has a good deal of forward speed and airflow over all of its surfaces.
  • In addition, the newer aircraft can fly higher and have a greater range than the older planes.
  • After nearly nine months of work, he said that it was very pleasing to see the aircraft flying once again.
travel/go by air, travel/go by plane, jet;
Indian  air-dash
1.2 [with object] Control the flight of (an aircraft): he flew Hurricanes in the war
More example sentences
  • The aircraft is flown by two flight crew with between six and ten mission crew.
  • This reduced the amount of control forces and the frequency of control movements required to fly the aircraft.
  • The nearest aircraft was regularly flown by Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton.
1.3 [with object and adverbial of direction] Transport in an aircraft: helicopters flew the injured to hospital
More example sentences
  • They are sending a transport aircraft to fly relief to Grand Bahama.
  • The injured boy was flown by helicopter to hospital, where he was treated for multiple bites to the arms and legs.
  • Two other US soldiers were injured and were flown by helicopter back to a field hospital in the capital where they were in a ‘stable’ condition last night.
transport by air/plane, airlift, lift, jet
1.4 [with object] Accomplish (a purpose) in an aircraft: pilots trained to fly combat missions
More example sentences
  • He said his father was also training Peruvian pilots to fly combat missions.
  • It was the first time since the Vietnam War that Royal Australian Air Force aircraft have flown close air support missions in support of Australian ground troops in a war zone.
  • He was a skilled pilot who had flown combat missions with the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I.
1.5 [with object] Release (a bird) to fly, especially a hawk for hunting or a pigeon for racing.
Example sentences
  • He would go up on to the roof each morning at dawn to fly his beloved birds into the clear sky.
  • He was prepared to provide T-bar perches for installation in areas where he regularly flew the birds.
  • Captive-bred birds are easy to come by now, but the time needed to look after and fly a bird is still a rare commodity.
2 [usually with adverbial of direction] Move or be hurled quickly through the air: balls kept flying over her hedge he was sent flying by the tackle
More example sentences
  • Shards of plastic and even wheels had been sent flying across the street into gardens and hedges.
  • Punches were thrown, chairs sent flying, a woman pushed to the floor and spectators in the packed arena sent running for cover, according to reports from the scene.
  • It was a breezy southwesterly gale which caused overflowing dustbins to be sent flying through the masses.
2.1 (past flied) Baseball Hit a ball high into the air: he flied out to the left field
More example sentences
  • With Wakefield up in the pen yet again as Francona burned through his options, Curt Leskanic came in and got Williams to fly to center to end the inning.
  • He was in the outfield when Houston pitcher Bill Greason flew to left.
  • The deciding run, in the fourth inning, came as Crabtree tripled after Longacre fell trying to make the catch and Kurowski flew to right.
3 [with adverbial] Wave or flutter in the wind: she ran after him, her hair flying behind her
More example sentences
  • Shaking his head back and forth his hair flew everywhere, hand waving at the side of his head as if he smelled something bad.
  • Her hair was blowing freely in the wind and her cloak flew behind her, she felt so free when riding like nothing could touch her and she could do as she pleased.
  • We've all seen the image of the person on the motorcycle with her hair flying behind her in the wind.
flutter, flap, wave, blow, waft, float, stream
3.1(With reference to a flag) display or be displayed on a flagpole: [with object]: vessels which flew the Spanish flag [no object]: flags were flying at half mast
More example sentences
  • The flag was flying on the flagpole, meaning that Her Majesty was at home.
  • No one partied harder than the people of Bolton, with flags flying patriotically from flagpoles and bunting between the houses.
  • The flag flew from every public building, from every municipal flagpole, and from every structure of consequence in the land.
display, show, exhibit;
have hoisted, have run up
4 [usually with adverbial of direction] Go or move quickly: she flew along the path his fingertips flew across the keyboard
More example sentences
  • My fingers were flying over the keyboard, making words and sentences and thoughts.
  • I can go into a state of zen-like calm and concentration, while my fingers fly across the keyboard.
  • The horse flew smoothly along the ground, her muscles moving in perfect synchronization with each other.
4.1 informal Depart hastily: I must fly!
More example sentences
  • We too must fly, so stride briskly over the bridge to Boat Of Garten, from where a steam railway plies its way across the moor to Aviemore, giving another magnificent aspect of the mountains.
  • And they've just put out the second call for our flight, so I must fly…
  • ‘Thank you.’ Claudia stood up. ‘I have to fly! We must get together for dinner soon!’
race, hurry, hasten, flash, dash, dart, rush, shoot, speed, hurtle, streak, really move, spank along, whirl, whizz, go like lightning, go hell for leather, whoosh, buzz, zoom, swoop, blast, charge;
stampede, gallop, chase, career, bustle, sweep, hare, wing, scurry, scud, scutter
informal belt, scoot, scorch, tear, zap, zip, whip (along), get cracking, get a move on, step on it, burn rubber, go like a bat out of hell
British informal bomb, bucket, shift, put one's foot down
North American informal clip, boogie, hightail, barrel, lay rubber
North American vulgar slang drag/tear/haul ass
literary fleet
archaic post, hie
4.2(Of time) pass swiftly: the evening had just flown by
More example sentences
  • Another weekend has flown past and Easter is looming up pretty fast again this year.
  • Our five days in Germany's capital city flew along quickly even though the first week of January is more like an extended siesta period for Germans.
  • Those long winters on Lewis must have just flown by.
go quickly, fly by/past, pass swiftly, slip past, rush past
4.3(Of accusations or insults) be exchanged swiftly and heatedly: the accusations flew thick and fast
More example sentences
  • Since the most recent round of devastating fires, the accusations have flown thick and fast.
  • If that weren't enough, the insults and accusations were flying like sand on a pre-school playground.
  • And the accusations of sexism keep flying in thick and fast.
4.4(Of a report) be circulated swiftly and widely: rumours were flying around Manchester
More example sentences
  • Then yesterday in the mid afternoon text messages began flying around the town that the Alexander The Great star was perched on a bar stool in the Purty Kitchen Pub with some friends.
  • Rumours are currently flying around cyberspace that there might be a further three episodes of Star Wars in the pipeline.
  • With all the rumours that were flying around about the newspaper's feature on the nightclub, I couldn't help myself; I had to get my hands on the article and read it myself.
4.5 archaic Run away: those that fly may fight again
More example sentences
  • it was to the English he must have flown for protection, and to them he would naturally have communicated his fears.
  • Yet you did not fly from me, nor did I fly from you: we are innocent towards one another in our unfaithfulness.
  • These people know of my crime; perhaps they will not fly from me, and will only kill me.
4.6 [with object] archaic Escape from in haste: you must fly the country for a while
More example sentences
  • He was compelled to fly the realm for having murdered a woman with child.
  • Protestants, wherever they could obtain shipping, hasted to fly the country.
  • This is no time for thanks, Mr. Peters, unless it is to the Lord; you must fly the country, and that at once!
5North American informal Be successful: that idea didn’t fly with most other council members
More example sentences
  • Here's one we prepared earlier on the current state of the art, and presumably if the UK scheme flies it will be along the lines of the US stuff.
  • This film usually gets great ratings, but it just didn't fly for me.
  • If this idea flies, I have no problem in supporting it and finding the ways to make it feasible.

noun (plural flies)

1 (British often flies) An opening at the crotch of a pair of trousers, closed with a zip or buttons and typically covered with a flap.
Example sentences
  • Interesting alternatives are Velcro straps or, if the shorts fit perfectly, stylish button flies.
  • Imagine my reaction then as I stumble out of the cupboard buttoning up the flies on my jeans and two secretaries are walking past.
  • We make boxers with fake flies, no flies, and button flies.
1.1A flap of material covering the opening or fastening of a garment or of a tent.
Example sentences
  • We use our ice axes to stake down the fly, but it flaps as violently as a trapped bird.
  • I do not like how far I have to reach from the inside of the tent to the zip on the fly.
  • After the exterior of the tent's fly dries, remove it and drape it over a bush or tree limb with the interior exposed.
2 (the flies) The space over the stage in a theatre.
Example sentences
  • The rest, even while the scenery keeps rising from the floor or descending from the flies, remains unremittingly flat.
  • Also all sorts of bolts of cloth unrolled this way and that or unfurling from the flies, sometimes covering the entire cast, though not for long enough.
  • Suspended from the flies or moving in slow motion, she was a spiritual warrior and her chalked, nude body was her testing ground.
3 Baseball short for fly ball.
Example sentences
  • He led off the top of the ninth inning with a high fly down the left field line.
  • In years gone by, if a fielder caught a foul fly while stepping into the dugout, it was ruled a legal catch.
  • He steals a base up by 10 runs or down by 10, and he's standing on second base by the time his routine fly to center field is caught.
4 (plural usually flys) British historical A one-horse hackney carriage.
Example sentences
  • The season at Solentsea was now past: the parade was gloomy, and the flys were few and cheap.
  • I paid my bill at the hotel, and hired a fly to take me to the town.
  • In half a minute the light of the lanterns fell upon a hired fly, drawn by a steaming and jaded horse.
5Australian /NZ informal An attempt: we decided to give it a fly



fly the coop

informal Make one’s escape.
Example sentences
  • ‘They are flying the coop in search of greener pastures,’ she lamented at a press conference recently.
  • Is it just me or don't most people want to fly the coop by the time they hit 20?
  • Alan's the eldest and had decided to fly the coop… he had some great friends over there, he was really happy.

fly the flag

see flag1.

fly high

Be very successful; prosper.
Example sentences
  • A young pigeon fancier is flying high after his new hobby saw him racing ahead of the competition.
  • Pubs, restaurants and shops at Middlebrook and the rest of the town thrives when the club is flying high.
  • But she is a very happy woman today, seeing her daughter flying high.

fly in the face of

Be openly at variance with (what is usual or expected): a need to fly in the face of convention
More example sentences
  • Miss Lyall said: ‘It was flying in the face of what central government were saying.’
  • ‘The Home Secretary has chosen to fly in the face of so much compelling evidence that the law needs to be changed,’ said Mr Davis.
  • This government continues to fly in the face of not just international opinion, but commonsense and decency.
go against, flout, defy, disobey, refuse to obey, rebel against, thumb one's nose at, disregard, ignore, set one's face against, kick against;
informal cock a snook at
archaic set at naught

fly into a rage (or temper)

Become suddenly or violently angry.
Example sentences
  • I have met men who can fix a broken kettle or a toaster without flying into a temper and shouting at the kids.
  • If everything was not perfect he could fly into a rage.
  • She suspected her mother would fly into a rage if she asked her this question.

fly a kite

informal Try something out to test public opinion.
Example sentences
  • Here he is flying a kite on nationalising public hospitals - not endorsing it and not dismissing it either!
  • A day later, the governing body's chairman, Geoff Thompson, flew a kite: that Keegan may need ‘a little help’ in integrating the country's leading coaches into service for the international side.
  • I discussed the situation with Henrik Larsson and flew a kite about him going to Barcelona.

fly the nest

(Of a young bird) leave its nest on becoming able to fly.
Example sentences
  • It is fascinating keeping an eye on them and I look forward to seeing the eggs hatch and the young birds fly the nest.
  • The council will now have to wait for the eggs to hatch and the chicks to fly the nest before sending the demolition men back in, unless a bid for a special licence to remove the nest is granted.
  • The nestlings, grey coloured until they get their adult feathers, fly the nest 17-21 days after hatching.
informal7.1 (Of a young person) leave their parents' home to set up home elsewhere.
Example sentences
  • So that's another sibling to vacate Southport; another is likely to fly the nest in the not too distant future, even my parents are looking at moving themselves.
  • As a man of almost 70 who has his only two sons still living with him at home at the ages of 38 and 30 and - unfortunately - showing little sign of flying the nest, I would be deliriously happy to have a grandchild.
  • Several changes in her life, including her children flying the nest, have meant that now is the right time for a change.

fly off the handle

informal Lose one’s temper suddenly and unexpectedly.
Figuratively, with reference to the loose head of an axe
Example sentences
  • We can't have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.
  • This issue is personal for me - that's why I'm flying off the handle.
  • Now 15, he is every bit the troubled teen, picking fights and flying off the handle at his closest friends.
lose one's temper, become very angry, fly into a rage, explode, blow up, erupt, lose control, go berserk, breathe fire, begin to rant and rave, flare up, boil over
informal go mad, go crazy, go wild, go bananas, have a fit, see red, blow one's top, blow a fuse, blow a gasket, do one's nut, hit the roof, go through the roof, go up the wall, go off the deep end, lose one's cool, go ape, flip, flip one's lid, lose one's rag, lose it, freak out, be fit to be tied, be foaming at the mouth, burst a blood vessel, get one's dander up, go non-linear
British informal go spare, go crackers, throw a wobbly, get one's knickers in a twist
North American informal flip one's wig
Australian/New Zealand informal go crook
vulgar slang go apeshit

go fly a kite

[in imperative] North American informal Go away.
Example sentences
  • And if it attempted to subpoena those documents, the White House would tell it to go fly a kite.
  • Franklin wanted the turkey and they told him to go fly a kite.
  • The Government has now legislated a convoluted process whereby criminals can profit and victims can go fly a kite.

on the fly

While in motion or progress: producers were able to schedule the day’s Olympic coverage on the fly
More example sentences
  • Mail was picked up on the fly using a catch arm on the side of the car swung out by a Railway Mail Clerk who at the same time kicked off a sack of mail for that place.
  • I have numerous ways that I catch and categorize information on the fly.
  • The rap against him is he makes mistakes in coverage and has trouble adjusting on the fly.
Computing 10.1 During the running of a computer program without interrupting the run.
Example sentences
  • Volumes of storage can be allocated to application servers on the fly, without interrupting operation.
  • Most of the pages are generated on the fly through a database query.
  • The tests even simulate how networks make bandwidth and other changes on the fly.

Phrasal verbs

fly at

1Attack verbally or physically: Robbie flew at him, fists clenched
More example sentences
  • But springing back up, the teen didn't even miss a beat before he was flying at Greg again, fist raised for the attack.
  • She is locked up after flying at John Reed who beat her.
  • She flew at her father, beating him.
attack, assault, make an assault on, launch an attack on, pounce on, set upon, set about, launch oneself at, weigh into, let fly at, turn on, round on, lash out at, hit out at, strike out at, beset, belabour, fall on, accost, mug, charge, rush, storm
British informal have a go at
North American informal light into
2(Of a hawk) pursue and attack, or habitually pursue (prey).
Example sentences
  • Suddenly the hawk flies at something a long way off. It's a squirrel running on the ground.
  • He compared the actions of parliament to a hawk flying at a covey of partridge.



Example sentences
  • Another deal was struck which would see Dick and his crew get the plane flyable, take it Long Beach and put it up for sale.
  • The idea is to create a network of volunteers who would be willing to donate, or loan, their old, but still flyable, gliders and gear to instructors.
  • If an aircrew makes errors in evaluating an engine failure, they can lose a perfectly flyable aircraft.


Old English flēogan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vliegen and German fliegen, also to fly2.

  • In Old English a fly was any winged insect. In the 17th century the clergyman Edward Topsell wrote of ‘the black flies called beetles’. A fly in the ointment is a minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something. The phrase goes back to a verse in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.’ To fly a kite has had various incarnations in slang. It now means ‘to try something out to test public opinion’, but in the 19th century it was to raise money on credit. In the USA telling someone to go fly a kite is to tell them to go away. The flies on trousers or in a theatre come from the idea that they are only partly attached to their base, as if they could fly off.

Words that rhyme with fly

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai
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There are 3 main definitions of fly in English:

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fly 2

Pronunciation: /flʌɪ/

noun (plural flies)

1A flying insect of a large order characterized by a single pair of transparent wings and sucking (and often also piercing) mouthparts. Flies are of great importance as vectors of disease. See also Diptera.
  • Order Diptera: numerous families
Example sentences
  • Almost 40 years ago Ed Lewis discovered a remarkable fly that differs from an ordinary fly by one extra pair of wings.
  • There were also winged salamanders feasting on flying insects such as flies and mosquitoes.
  • A single fly was placed on the platform, and placidly stayed there, motionless, until the test stimulus was presented.
1.1 [usually in combination] Used in names of flying insects of other orders, e.g. butterfly, dragonfly, firefly.
Example sentences
  • In the garden dill attracts beneficial insects, including bees, parasitic wasps and tachinid flies.
  • These are visited by a diverse array of animals, including bees, hawk moths, beetles, butterflies, long-tongued flies, hummingbirds and bats.
  • Donald Feener is an ecologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who studies the relationship between parasitic flies and ants.
1.2 [mass noun] An infestation of flying insects on a plant or animal: cattle to be treated for warble fly
More example sentences
  • Where Mediterranean fruit fly is a potential problem, bait should be laid six weeks before picking.
  • The Mock Orange bush has a bad case of black fly already, and the rose bush has greenfly.
  • Some of the young bulbs on the lower deck are still green and you have to be alert for green fly.
1.3A natural or artificial flying insect used as bait in fishing, especially a mayfly.
Example sentences
  • There seems to be a culture that now associates using artificial lures and flies with the need to conserve our stocks for the future.
  • Take the advice of local anglers for choice of flies and small popping plugs.
  • Unlike in trout fishing, where an artificial fly is used, anglers hunting pike tend to go for bait such as small fish.



die (or drop) like flies

Die or collapse in large numbers.
Example sentences
  • When people are dropping like flies in plagues and epidemics, some actually recover, while others in their midst remain unscathed.
  • Only a few days ago I was feeling smug about not coming down with anything even though my workmates were dropping like flies.
  • Inmates are dropping like flies and being taken for emergency medical treatment.

drink with the flies

Australian /NZ Drink alone.
Example sentences
  • if I wanted to have a drink I had to drink with the flies.
  • He'll even drink with the flies every now and then.
  • Mick and I were enjoying some amber fluid the other day (no, I don't drink with the flies).

a fly in the ointment

A minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something.
Example sentences
  • The fly in the ointment will be if there are major planning hold-ups.
  • Am feeling fairly chilled at the moment - the only fly in the ointment at the moment is that Mum is coming to visit tomorrow
  • Yes, don't you know I'm going to throw a fly in the ointment?
British  disbenefit
informal hiccup, facer
British informal spanner in the works
North American informal monkey wrench in the works

fly on the wall

An unnoticed observer of a particular situation.
Example sentences
  • Should we be a fly on the wall, monitoring the conversations back and forth?
  • He reveals details of boardroom machinations and backstairs skirmishes which only a fly on the wall could have witnessed.
  • It is very disconcerting to be a fly on the wall as a band figures out what musical style best suits them (something that is generally determined before the studio album is recorded).
[as modifier]4.1 Denoting a film-making technique whereby events are recorded realistically with minimum interference rather than acted out under direction: a fly-on-the-wall documentary
More example sentences
  • This spoof, fly on the wall, documentary is funny, scary, provocative, disturbing and has a real point to make.
  • I get increasingly exasperated by TV - cookery, gardening, soaps and fly on the wall documentaries all irritate me.
  • Does anyone remember that fly on the wall documentary on channel 4 where some teenage kids looked after real children?

like a blue-arsed fly

British vulgar slang In an extremely hectic or frantic way.

(there are) no flies on ——

Used to emphasize a person’s cleverness and astuteness: no flies on Phyllis—she paid six months in advance
More example sentences
  • Yorkshire were seen home in 26.5 overs by Wood and Phil Jaques, Wood ending with 41 from 68 deliveries, and there were certainly no flies on Yorkshire as they headed north in the early evening sunshine.
  • You could say there were no flies on Kevin when it came to football.
  • Yep, no flies on our Stevie, whose last gig was as Secretary of State for Indian Affairs and Western Economic Diversification.

wouldn't hurt (or harm) a fly

Used to emphasize how inoffensive and harmless a person or animal is.
Example sentences
  • He's a full bred Staffordshire Bullpit Rottweiler, and though he occasionally chews the bottom of the backdoor off, he's a harmless and lovable creature that wouldn't hurt a fly.
  • Phyllis was really nice - she wouldn't hurt a fly.
  • A close friend, who did not want to be named, today described Lorrie as a ‘lovely, shy man who had a heart of gold and wouldn't hurt a fly’.

you (can) catch more flies with honey than (with) vinegar

proverb It is more effective to be polite and flattering than to be hostile or demanding.
Example sentences
  • I have no reason to believe that "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" doesn't apply to politics.
  • So what's wrong with a book whose basic message is: you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?
  • Her thesis in this piece appears to be that female academics ought to be using their wiles to confront inequality because "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar".


Old English flȳge, flēoge, denoting any winged insect, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vlieg and German Fliege, also to fly1.

  • In Old English a fly was any winged insect. In the 17th century the clergyman Edward Topsell wrote of ‘the black flies called beetles’. A fly in the ointment is a minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something. The phrase goes back to a verse in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.’ To fly a kite has had various incarnations in slang. It now means ‘to try something out to test public opinion’, but in the 19th century it was to raise money on credit. In the USA telling someone to go fly a kite is to tell them to go away. The flies on trousers or in a theatre come from the idea that they are only partly attached to their base, as if they could fly off.

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There are 3 main definitions of fly in English:

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fly 3

Pronunciation: /flʌɪ/

adjective (flyer, flyest)

1British Knowing and clever: she’s fly enough not to get tricked out of it
More example sentences
  • Never in the history of nannies has there been a more fly nanny than Julie Andrews.
  • I'm too fly to admit anything to youse guys.
  • This sort of manoeuvre must have been what one shadow cabinet colleague had in mind when he privately described the politician as ‘an extremely fly operator’.
2North American Fashionably attractive and impressive: a fly dude
More example sentences
  • If your neighbor's got a fly crib or a pimped-out set of wheels, that's their business, not yours.
  • I was looking for the fly stuff, and I don't mean fishing gear.
  • Babs wants to know if her romance with the fly guy she met last year is for keeps.



Example sentences
  • He shared his neighbours' fundamental piety, their flyness, their brusque manners and their vigorous speech.
  • your page is so live and professional, that I did not want to ruin its flyness.
  • If you're looking for the suit that will make you look like a celebrity, with a little bit of "flyness" to it, then this is it!


Early 19th century: of unknown origin.

  • In Old English a fly was any winged insect. In the 17th century the clergyman Edward Topsell wrote of ‘the black flies called beetles’. A fly in the ointment is a minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something. The phrase goes back to a verse in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.’ To fly a kite has had various incarnations in slang. It now means ‘to try something out to test public opinion’, but in the 19th century it was to raise money on credit. In the USA telling someone to go fly a kite is to tell them to go away. The flies on trousers or in a theatre come from the idea that they are only partly attached to their base, as if they could fly off.

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