"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[flahy-bahy-nahyt] /ˈflaɪ baɪˌnaɪt/
not reliable or responsible, especially in business; untrustworthy:
a fly-by-night operation.
not lasting; brief; impermanent; transitory:
a fly-by-night theater.
noun, Also, fly-by-nighter
a person or thing that is unreliable, especially a debtor who evades or attempts to evade creditors.
a person regarded as a poor credit risk.
Origin of fly-by-night
1790-1800 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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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


unreliable or untrustworthy, esp in finance
brief; impermanent
an untrustworthy person, esp one who departs secretly or by night to avoid paying debts
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
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Word Origin and History for fly-by-night

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
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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.
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Slang definitions & phrases for fly-by-night



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.
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