follow Dictionary.com

Get the details behind our redesign

flying

[flahy-ing] /ˈflaɪ ɪŋ/
adjective
1.
making flight or passing through the air; that flies:
a flying insect; an unidentified flying object.
2.
floating, fluttering, waving, hanging, or moving freely in the air:
flying banners; flying hair.
3.
extending through the air.
4.
moving swiftly.
5.
made while moving swiftly:
a flying leap.
6.
very hasty or brief; fleeting or transitory:
a flying visit; a flying remark.
7.
designed or organized for swift movement or action.
8.
fleeing, running away, or taking flight:
They pursued the flying enemy.
9.
Nautical. (of a sail) having none of its edges fastened to spars or stays.
noun
10.
the act of moving through the air on wings; flight.
adverb
11.
Nautical. without being fastened to a yard, stay, or the like:
a sail set flying.
Origin
1000
before 1000; Middle English (noun); Old English flēogende (adj.). See fly1, -ing2, -ing1
Related forms
nonflying, adjective
unflying, adjective

fly1

[flahy] /flaɪ/
verb (used without object), flew or for 11, 19, flied, flown, flying.
1.
to move through the air using wings.
2.
to be carried through the air by the wind or any other force or agency:
bits of paper flying about.
3.
to float or flutter in the air:
flags flying in the breeze.
4.
to travel in an aircraft or spacecraft.
5.
to move suddenly and quickly; start unexpectedly:
He flew from the room.
6.
to change rapidly and unexpectedly from one state or position to another:
The door flew open.
7.
to flee; escape.
8.
to travel in space:
The probe will fly past the planet.
9.
to move or pass swiftly:
How time flies!
10.
to move with an aggressive surge:
A mother fox will fly at anyone approaching her kits.
11.
Baseball.
  1. to bat a fly ball:
    He flied into right field.
  2. to fly out.
12.
Informal. to be acceptable, believable, or feasible:
It seemed like a good idea, but it just wouldn't fly.
verb (used with object), flew or for 11, 19, flied, flown, flying.
13.
to make (something) float or move through the air:
to fly a kite.
14.
to operate (an aircraft, spacecraft, or the like).
15.
to hoist aloft, as for display, signaling, etc.:
to fly a flag.
16.
to operate an aircraft or spacecraft over:
to fly the Pacific.
17.
to transport or convey by air:
We fly merchandise to Boston.
18.
to escape from; flee:
to fly someone's wrath.
19.
Theater.
  1. to hang (scenery) above a stage by means of rigging supported by the gridiron.
  2. to raise (scenery) from the stage or acting area into the flies.
noun, plural flies.
20.
a strip of material sewn along one edge of a garment opening for concealing buttons, zippers, or other fasteners.
21.
a flap forming the door of a tent.
22.
Also called tent fly. a piece of canvas extending over the ridgepole of a tent and forming an outer roof.
23.
an act of flying; a flight.
24.
the course of a flying object, as a ball.
25.
Baseball. fly ball.
26.
British. a light, covered, public carriage drawn by one horse; hansom; hackney coach.
27.
Machinery. a horizontal arm, weighted at each end, that pivots about the screw of a press so that when the screw is lowered the momentum of the fly will increase the force of the press.
28.
Also called fan. Horology. a regulating device for chime and striking mechanisms, consisting of an arrangement of vanes on a revolving axis.
29.
Printing.
  1. (in some presses) the apparatus for removing the printed sheets to the delivery table.
  2. Also called flyboy. (formerly) a printer's devil employed to remove printed sheets from a press.
30.
  1. the horizontal dimension of a flag as flown from a vertical staff.
  2. the end of the flag farther from the staff.
    Compare hoist (def 7).
31.
flies, Also called fly loft. Theater. the space above the stage used chiefly for storing scenery and equipment.
32.
Nautical. a propellerlike device streamed to rotate and transfer information on speed to a mechanical log.
Verb phrases
33.
fly out, Baseball, Softball. to be put out by hitting a fly ball that is caught by a player of the opposing team.
Idioms
34.
fly blind,
  1. to operate an airplane, especially during conditions of poor visibility, relying solely on instruments for guidance.
  2. to proceed with a complex task in the absence of directions by using one's own ability to determine what procedures to follow.
35.
fly in the face of, to act in defiance of (authority, custom, etc.).
Also, fly in the teeth of.
36.
fly off the handle. handle (def 16).
37.
go fly a kite, Slang.
  1. to put up with or get used to matters as they stand.
  2. to confine oneself to one's own affairs.
  3. to cease being a nuisance:
    If she gets mad enough she'll tell me to go fly a kite.
38.
let fly,
  1. to hurl or propel (a weapon, missile, etc.).
  2. to give free rein to an emotion:
    She let fly with a barrage of angry words.
39.
on the fly,
  1. during flight; before falling to the ground:
    to catch a baseball on the fly.
  2. hurriedly; without pausing:
    We had dinner on the fly.
Origin
before 900; Middle English flīen, Old English flēogan; cognate with Old High German fliogan, German fliegen, Old Norse fljuga
Related forms
flyable, adjective
flyability, noun
nonflyable, adjective
reflyable, adjective
unflyable, adjective
Synonyms
1. Fly, flit, flutter, hover, soar refer to moving through the air as on wings. Fly is the general term: Birds fly. Airplanes fly. To flit is to make short rapid flights from place to place: A bird flits from tree to tree. To flutter is to agitate the wings tremulously, either without flying or in flying only short distances: A young bird flutters out of a nest and in again. To hover is to linger in the air, or to move over or about something within a narrow area or space: hovering clouds; a hummingbird hovering over a blossom. To soar is to (start to) fly upward to a great height usually with little advance in any other direction, or else to (continue to) fly at a lofty height without visible movement of the wings: Above our heads an eagle was soaring.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples for flying
  • For safety's sake, avoid flying when the park is crowded.
  • The emails were flying back and forth with different plans and menu lineups.
  • Either way, she got trapped on the window- you know the way flying bugs get trapped trying to leave through the closed window.
  • There were still bees flying, even in the rain, but not many.
  • Armored police vehicles come flying around corners toward taunting students, who pelt them with rocks.
  • The target of the prank returned to find his new flying roommates, and called the police.
  • Frivolous lawsuits, intimidation, mobbing are not the flying buttresses of modern science.
  • And then the captain tells you that traffic is stacked up and you spend the next hour flying in circles until you can land.
  • Frankly, it never would have occurred to me to test flying squirrels in a wind tunnel.
  • Further discoveries will inform our still-growing understanding of how these flying reptiles reproduced.
British Dictionary definitions for flying

flying

/ˈflaɪɪŋ/
adjective
1.
(prenominal) hurried; fleeting a flying visit
2.
(prenominal) designed for fast action
3.
(prenominal) moving or passing quickly on or as if on wings a flying leap, the flying hours
4.
hanging, waving, or floating freely flying hair
5.
(nautical) (of a sail) not hauled in tight against the wind
noun
6.
the act of piloting, navigating, or travelling in an aircraft
7.
(modifier) relating to, capable of, accustomed to, or adapted for flight a flying machine
related
adjective volant

fly1

/flaɪ/
verb flies, flying, flew, flown
1.
(intransitive) (of birds, aircraft, etc) to move through the air in a controlled manner using aerodynamic forces
2.
to travel over (an area of land or sea) in an aircraft
3.
to operate (an aircraft or spacecraft)
4.
to float, flutter, or be displayed in the air or cause to float, etc, in this way to fly a kite, they flew the flag
5.
to transport or be transported by or through the air by aircraft, wind, etc
6.
(intransitive) to move or be moved very quickly, forcibly, or suddenly she came flying towards me, the door flew open
7.
(intransitive) to pass swiftly time flies
8.
to escape from (an enemy, place, etc); flee he flew the country
9.
(intransitive; may be foll by at or upon) to attack a person
10.
(intransitive) to have a sudden outburst he flew into a rage again
11.
(intransitive) (of money, etc) to vanish rapidly
12.
(transitive) (falconry) (of hawks) to fly at (quarry) in attack peregrines fly rooks
13.
(transitive) (theatre) to suspend (scenery) above the stage so that it may be lowered into view
14.
fly a kite
  1. to procure money by an accommodation bill
  2. to release information or take a step in order to test public opinion
15.
(informal) fly high
  1. to have a high aim
  2. to prosper or flourish
16.
fly in the face of, See face (sense 19)
17.
(informal) fly off the handle, to lose one's temper
18.
(US & Canadian, informal) fly the coop, to leave suddenly
19.
(US & Canadian, informal) go fly a kite, go away
20.
(informal) let fly
  1. to lose one's temper (with a person) she really let fly at him
  2. to shoot or throw (an object)
noun (pl) flies
21.
(often pl) Also called fly front. a closure that conceals a zip, buttons, or other fastening, by having one side overlapping, as on trousers
22.
Also called fly sheet
  1. a flap forming the entrance to a tent
  2. a piece of canvas drawn over the ridgepole of a tent to form an outer roof
23.
a small air brake used to control the chiming of large clocks
24.
the horizontal weighted arm of a fly press
25.
  1. the outer edge of a flag
  2. the distance from the outer edge of a flag to the staff Compare hoist (sense 9)
26.
(Brit) a light one-horse covered carriage formerly let out on hire
27.
(Austral & NZ) an attempt I'll give it a fly
28.
(printing)
  1. a device for transferring printed sheets from the press to a flat pile
  2. Also called flyhand. a person who collects and stacks printed matter from a printing press
  3. a piece of paper folded once to make four pages, with printing only on the first page
29.
(pl) (theatre) the space above the stage out of view of the audience, used for storing scenery, etc
30.
(rare) the act of flying
Derived Forms
flyable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English flēogan; related to Old Frisian fliāga, Old High German fliogan, Old Norse fljūga

fly2

/flaɪ/
noun (pl) flies
1.
any dipterous insect, esp the housefly, characterized by active flight See also horsefly, blowfly, tsetse fly, crane fly
2.
any of various similar but unrelated insects, such as the caddis fly, firefly, dragonfly, and chalcid fly
3.
(angling) a lure made from a fish-hook dressed with feathers, tinsel, etc, to resemble any of various flies or nymphs: used in fly-fishing See also dry fly, wet fly
4.
(in southern Africa) an area that is infested with the tsetse fly
5.
(Austral, slang) drink with the flies, to drink alone
6.
fly in amber, See amber (sense 2)
7.
(informal) fly in the ointment, a slight flaw that detracts from value, completeness, or enjoyment
8.
fly on the wall, a person who watches others, while not being noticed himself or herself
9.
(informal) there are no flies on him, he is no fool
Derived Forms
flyless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English flēoge; related to Old Norse fluga Old High German flioga; see fly1

fly3

/flaɪ/
adjective (slang) flyer, flyest
1.
(mainly Brit) knowing and sharp; smart
2.
(mainly Scot) furtive or sneaky
noun
3.
(mainly Scot) on the fly, in secret; sneakily
Word Origin
C19: of uncertain origin
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 flying
fly
O.E. fleoge, from P.Gmc. *fleugjon (cf. O.S. fleiga, O.N. fluga, M.Du. vlieghe, Ger. Fliege "fly); lit. "the flying (insect)" (cf. O.E. fleogende "flying"), from same source as fly(v.1). Originally "any winged insect" (hence butterfly, etc.); long used by farmers and gardeners for any insect parasite. The O.E. plural in -n (cf. oxen) gradually normalized 13c.-15c. to -s. Slang adj. meaning "clever, alert, wide awake" first recorded 18c., perhaps from the notion of the insect being hard to catch (other theories, however, trace it to fledge or flash); 1990s use may be a revival or a reinvention. Fly on the wall "unseen observer" first recorded 1949. An O.E. word for "curtain" was fleonet "fly-net." Fly-swatter first attested 1917. Fly-fishing is from 1650s.
fly
"to soar through air," O.E. fleogan (class II strong verb; past tense fleag, pp. flogen), from W.Gmc. *fleuganan (cf. O.H.G. fliogan, O.N. flügja, M.Du. vlieghen, Ger. fliegen), from PIE *pleu- "flowing, floating" (cf. Lith. plaukiu "to swim"). Notion of "flapping as a wing does" led to noun sense of "tent flap" (1810), which yielded (1844) "covering for buttons that close up a garment." Slang phrase fly off the handle "lose one's cool" dates from 1825. On the fly is 1851.
fly
"run away," O.E. fleon (see flee). Fleogan and fleon were often confused in O.E., too. Mod.Eng. distinguishes in preterite: flew/fled.
flying
O.E. fleogende, prp. of fly (v.1). Flying buttress is from 1660s; flying fish is from 1510s. Flying saucer first attested 1947, though the image of saucers for unidentified flying objects is from at least 1880s. Flying Dutchman ghost ship first recorded c.1830, in Jeffrey, Baron de Reigersfeld's "The Life of a Sea Officer." Flying colors (1706) probably is from the image of a naval vessel with the national flag bravely displayed.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
flying in Medicine

fly (flī)
n.
Any of numerous two-winged insects of the order Diptera.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
flying in Science
fly
  (flī)   
Any of numerous insects of the order Diptera, having one pair of wings and large compound eyes. Flies include the houseflies, horseflies, and mosquitoes. See more at dipteran.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for flying

flying

adjective

Useless; worthless •Used to emphasize terms meaning ''something of little value,'' all probably variations and euphemisms of a flying fuck (1940s+)

Related Terms

have the rag on


fly

adjective
  1. Clever; knowing; alert; shrewd (1811+)
  2. Stylish; very attractive; sharp, superfly: driving a Cadillac that's fly/ They tell each other they're fly when they look sharp (1900+ Black)
verb
  1. To act in a strange or bizarre way: The broad must be flying on something (1960s+ Narcotics)
  2. To feel the effects of narcotic intoxication: About a minute after the fix he was flying (1960s+ Narcotics)
  3. To succeed; persuade; go over •Often in the negative: They're experts on what will fly and what won't/ He glanced at Keenan to see if that statement was going to fly (1970s+)
  4. To run or travel very fast
Related Terms

barfly, catch flies, fruit fly, let fly, no flies on, on the fly, shoo-fly

[the first adjective sense, ''clever, alert, etc,'' is of unknown origin, though it is conjectured that it may refer to the difficulty of catching a fly in midair, that it may be cognate with fledge and hence mean ''accomplished, proven, seasoned,'' and that it is a corruption of fla, a shortening of flash; the third verb sense, ''succeed, persuade, etc,'' is fr a cluster of jokes and phrases having to do with the Wright Brothers' and others' efforts to get something off the ground and make it fly; the two adjective senses involve either a survival or a revival of an early 19thcentury British underworld term of unknown origin]


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
flying in the Bible

Heb. zebub, (Eccl. 10:1; Isa. 7:18). This fly was so grievous a pest that the Phoenicians invoked against it the aid of their god Baal-zebub (q.v.). The prophet Isaiah (7:18) alludes to some poisonous fly which was believed to be found on the confines of Egypt, and which would be called by the Lord. Poisonous flies exist in many parts of Africa, for instance, the different kinds of tsetse. Heb. 'arob, the name given to the insects sent as a plague on the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:21-31; Ps. 78:45; 105:31). The LXX. render this by a word which means the "dog-fly," the cynomuia. The Jewish commentators regarded the Hebrew word here as connected with the word _'arab_, which means "mingled;" and they accordingly supposed the plague to consist of a mixed multitude of animals, beasts, reptiles, and insects. But there is no doubt that "the _'arab_" denotes a single definite species. Some interpreters regard it as the Blatta orientalis, the cockroach, a species of beetle. These insects "inflict very painful bites with their jaws; gnaw and destroy clothes, household furniture, leather, and articles of every kind, and either consume or render unavailable all eatables."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for flying

in animals, locomotion of either of two basic types-powered, or true, flight and gliding. Winged (true) flight is found only in insects (most orders), most birds, and bats. The evolutionary modifications necessary for true flight in warm-blooded animals include those of the forelimbs into wings; lightening and fusion of bones; shortening of the torso; enlargement of the heart and thoracic muscles; and improved vision. Similar modifications in insects have occurred through different evolutionary pathways. The advantages conferred by flight are also great: in terms of numbers of species as well as numbers of individuals, insects, birds, and bats are among the most successful animal groups

Learn more about flying with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of The Day

Difficulty index for flying

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for flying

13
15
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with flying