seat of the pants, by the

Idioms & Phrases

seat of the pants, by the

Using intuition and improvisation rather than method or experience, as in He ran the business by the seat of his pants. This expression was invented by World War II fliers, who used it to describe flying when instruments were not working or weather interfered with visibility. It was transferred to broader use soon after the war.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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