follow Dictionary.com

Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers

fly-by-night

[flahy-bahy-nahyt] /ˈflaɪ baɪˌnaɪt/
adjective
1.
not reliable or responsible, especially in business; untrustworthy:
a fly-by-night operation.
2.
not lasting; brief; impermanent; transitory:
a fly-by-night theater.
noun, Also, fly-by-nighter
3.
a person or thing that is unreliable, especially a debtor who evades or attempts to evade creditors.
4.
a person regarded as a poor credit risk.
Origin
1790-1800
1790-1800
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for fly-by-night
  • To restore confidence, hedge funds have tried to shed their reputation for being fly-by-night operations.
  • The result is a fly-by-night operation based on guesses, rather than knowledgeable decisions.
  • Not to mention fly-by-night operations dumping unsafe products for a quick profit and heading for the hills.
  • We're not talking about some fly-by-night operation either.
  • That's because many fly-by-night ring-tone suppliers are not paying.
  • No fly-by-night fads, they abounded at decorator show houses and antiques shows.
  • The other is insecure, fearlessly individualistic and fly-by-night.
  • Check his place of business to see that he is not a fly-by-night operator.
  • Scam artists are fairly rare within the air conditioning industry and tend to be focused on fly-by-night operations.
  • They often are fly-by-night operations that can pack and move quickly from place to place, sometimes across state lines.
British Dictionary definitions for fly-by-night

fly-by-night

adjective
1.
unreliable or untrustworthy, esp in finance
2.
brief; impermanent
noun
3.
an untrustworthy person, esp one who departs secretly or by night to avoid paying debts
4.
a person who goes out at night to places of entertainment
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for fly-by-night
n.

1796, slang, said to be an old term of reproach to a woman signifying that she was a witch; extended 1823 to "anyone who departs hastily from a recent activity," especially while owing money. The two senses involve the two verbs fly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
fly-by-night in Culture

fly-by-night definition


Shady or untrustworthy: “Before buying stock in a newly formed company, the prudent investor will check its owners' credentials to make sure it's not a fly-by-night operation.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for fly-by-night

fly-by-night

adjective

Undependable and dishonest: fly-bynight correspondence school


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for fly-by-night

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for fly

9
9
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with fly-by-night

Nearby words for fly-by-night