wing it


either of the two forelimbs of most birds and of bats, corresponding to the human arms, that are specialized for flight.
either of two corresponding parts in flightless birds, which may be rudimentary, as in certain ratite birds, or adapted for swimming, as in penguins.
one of the paired, thin, lateral extensions of the body wall of an insect, located on the mesothorax and the metathorax, by means of which it flies.
a similar structure with which gods, angels, demons, etc., are conceived to be provided for the purpose of flying.
Slang. an arm of a human being, especially a baseball player's pitching or throwing arm.
a means or instrument of flight, travel, or progress.
the act or manner of flying.
something resembling or likened to a bird's wing, as a vane or sail of a windmill.
one of a pair of airfoils attached transversely to the fuselage of an aircraft and providing lift.
both airfoils, taken collectively.
Architecture. a part of a building projecting on one side of, or subordinate to, a central or main part.
Furniture. either of two forward extensions of the sides of the back of an easy chair.
either of the two side portions of an army or fleet, usually called right wing and left wing, and distinguished from the center; flank units.
an administrative and tactical unit of the U.S. Air force consisting of two or more groups, headquarters, and certain supporting and service units.
(in flight formation) noting a position to the side and just to the rear of another airplane.
Fortification. either of the longer sides of a crownwork, uniting it to the main work.
Sports. (in some team games) any one of the positions, or a player in such a position, on the far side of the center position, known as the left and right wings with reference to the direction of the opposite goal.
the platform or space on the right or left of the stage proper.
Anatomy. an ala: the wings of the sphenoid.
any leaflike expansion, as of a samara.
one of the two side petals of a papilionaceous flower. See diag. under papilionaceous.
either of the parts of a double door, screen, etc.
the feather of an arrow.
a faction within a political party, as at one extreme or the other: conflict between the right wing and the left wing.
Nautical. one of the far side areas of the hold of a merchant vessel.
British. a fender of an automobile, truck, bicycle, or other vehicle.
verb (used with object)
to equip with wings.
to enable to fly, move rapidly, etc.; lend speed or celerity to.
to supply with a winglike part, a side structure, etc.
to transport on or as on wings.
to perform or accomplish by wings.
to traverse in flight.
to wound or disable in the wing: to wing a bird.
to wound (a person) in an arm or other nonvital part.
to bring down (as a flying bird) by a shot.
Informal. to throw; lob: He winged a ball through the neighbor's window.
to brush or clean with a wing.
Theater. to perform (a part, role, etc.) relying on prompters in the wings.
verb (used without object)
to travel on or as if on wings; fly; soar: They are winging to the coast.
on the wing,
in flight, or flying: a bird on the wing.
in motion; traveling; active: Scouts are on the wing in search of a new talent.
take wing,
to begin to fly; take to the air.
to leave in haste; depart: Our resolutions to economize swiftly took wing.
under one's wing, under one's protection, care, or patronage: She took the orphan under her wing.
wing it, Informal. to accomplish or execute something without sufficient preparation or experience; improvise: He had no time to study, so he had to wing it.

1125–75; Middle English wenge (plural noun) < Old Danish wingæ; compare Norwegian, Swedish vinge, Old Norse vǣngr

outwing, verb (used with object) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wing (wɪŋ)
1.  either of the modified forelimbs of a bird that are covered with large feathers and specialized for flight in most species
2.  one of the organs of flight of an insect, consisting of a membranous outgrowth from the thorax containing a network of veins
3.  either of the organs of flight in certain other animals, esp the forelimb of a bat
4.  a.  a half of the main supporting surface on an aircraft, confined to one side of it
 b.  the full span of the main supporting surface on both sides of an aircraft
 c.  an aircraft designed as one complete wing
 d.  a position in flight formation, just to the rear and to one side of an aircraft
5.  a.  an organ or apparatus resembling a wing
 b.  anatomy Technical name: ala any bodily structure resembling a wing: the wings of a sphenoid bone
6.  anything suggesting a wing in form, function, or position, such as a sail of a windmill or a ship
7.  botany
 a.  either of the lateral petals of a sweetpea or related flower
 b.  any of various outgrowths of a plant part, esp the process on a wind-dispersed fruit or seed
8.  a means or cause of flight or rapid motion; flight: fear gave wings to his feet
9.  the act or manner of flying: a bird of strong wing
10.  (Brit) US and Canadian name: fender the part of a car body that surrounds the wheels
11.  any affiliate of or subsidiary to a parent organization
12.  sport
 a.  either of the two sides of the pitch near the touchline
 b.  a player stationed in such a position; winger
13.  left wing See also right wing a faction or group within a political party or other organization
14.  a part of a building that is subordinate to the main part
15.  (plural) the space offstage to the right or left of the acting area in a theatre
16.  in the wings ready to step in when needed
17.  fortifications a side connecting the main fort and an outwork
18.  a folding panel, as of a double door or a movable partition
19.  either of the two pieces that project forwards from the sides of some chairbacks
20.  the US name for quarterlight
21.  a surface fitted to a racing car to produce aerodynamic download to hold it on the road at high speed
22.  (plural) an insignia in the form of stylized wings worn by a qualified aircraft pilot
23.  a tactical formation in some air forces, consisting of two or more squadrons
24.  any of various flattened organs or extensions in lower animals, esp when used in locomotion
25.  the side of a hold alongside a ship's hull
26.  the outside angle of the cutting edge on the share and mouldboard of a plough
27.  a jetty or dam for narrowing a channel of water
28.  on a wing and a prayer with only the slightest hope of succeeding
29.  on the wing
 a.  flying
 b.  travelling
 c.  about to leave
30.  take wing
 a.  to lift off or fly away
 b.  to depart in haste
 c.  to become joyful
31.  under one's wing in one's care or tutelage
32.  clip someone's wings
 a.  to restrict someone's freedom
 b.  to thwart someone's ambition
33.  on wings flying or as if flying
34.  spread one's wings, stretch one's wings to make full use of one's abilities
35.  (also intr) to make (one's way) swiftly on or as if on wings
36.  to shoot or wound (a bird, person, etc) superficially, in the wing or arm, etc
37.  to cause to fly or move swiftly: to wing an arrow
38.  to fit (an arrow) with a feather
39.  to provide with wings
40.  (of buildings, altars, etc) to provide with lateral extensions
41.  informal wing it to accomplish or perform something without full preparation or knowledge; improvise
[C12: from Scandinavian; compare Old Norse vǣngir (plural), Norwegian veng]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1175, wenge, from O.N. vængr "wing of a bird, aisle, etc." (cf. Dan., Swed. vinge "wing"), of unknown origin, perhaps from a P.Gmc. *we-ingjaz and ult. from PIE base *we- "blow" (cf. O.E. wawan "to blow;" see wind (n.)). Replaced O.E. feðra (pl.) "wings" (see
feather). The meaning "either of two divisions of a political party, army, etc." is first recorded c.1400; theatrical sense is from 1790. Verbal phrase wing it (1885) is from theatrical slang sense of an actor learning his lines in the wings before going onstage, or else not learning them at all and being fed by a prompter in the wings. The verb to wing "shoot a bird in the wing" is from 1802. The slang sense of to earn (one's) wings is 1940s, from the wing-shaped badges awarded to air cadets on graduation. To be under (someone's) wing "protected by (someone)" is recorded from c.1230. Phrase on a wing and a prayer is title of a 1943 song about landing a damaged aircraft.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

wing (wĭng)

  1. Any of various paired movable organs of flight, such as the modified forelimb of a bird or bat or one of the membranous organs extending from the thorax of an insect.

  2. Something that resembles a wing in appearance, function, or position relative to a main body.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
wing   (wĭng)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. One of a pair of specialized parts used for flying, as in birds, bats, or insects.

  2. A thin, papery projection on certain fruits that are dispersed by the wind, such as the fruits of ash, elm, and maple trees. See also samara.

  3. A part extending from the side of an aircraft, such as an airplane, having a curved upper surface that causes the pressure of air rushing over it to decrease, thereby providing lift.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

wing it

Improvise, as in The interviewer had not read the author's book; he was just winging it. This expression comes from the theater, where it alludes to an actor studying his part in the wings (the areas to either side of the stage) because he has been suddenly called on to replace another. First recorded in 1885, it eventually was extended to other kinds of improvisation based on unpreparedness.

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