Main definitions of fly in US English:

: fly1fly2fly3

fly1

verbflies, flown, flying, flew

[no object]
  • 1(of a bird, bat, or insect) move through the air using wings.

    ‘close the door or the moths will fly in’
    ‘the bird can fly enormous distances’
    • ‘His eyes wandered slightly towards the windows, seeing several birds fly off into the distance.’
    • ‘Dozens of the dainty white gulls danced over the water, and I saw a Bald Eagle flying in the distance.’
    • ‘If the butterfly can fly free with its wings of iridescent color, gardeners should be allowed to do the same.’
    • ‘The sun was shining too, and birds and butterflies were flying about.’
    • ‘She was sure he hit one bird because there was a flurry of feathers and a bird flew away.’
    • ‘He believes a bird flying over the garden could have dropped a sunflower seed which has now transformed into the large plant.’
    • ‘She walked past neat gardens and tidy houses, watching small birds bath in bird baths, insects fly around flowers and people inside their air conditioned houses.’
    • ‘North of Fairwater, a few geese fly in the distance.’
    • ‘A moth flies by, wings beating slowly as though it were a bird; then a woman, barefoot in a long gown, appears to swim upward in defiance of gravity.’
    • ‘I was woken up this morning at half past five by quite the most enormous bumble bee flying around the bedroom.’
    • ‘Early this year, flowers bloomed ahead of time in spring and migrant birds flew back to the north earlier than usual.’
    • ‘What was also surprising was the number of insects still flying and giving the birds a good meal.’
    • ‘A gaggle of quibblers complain that chickens do fly, albeit short distances.’
    • ‘He said the company does have occasional problems with birds flying into power cables but this area was not considered at high risk and no other similar incidents have been reported over the past year.’
    • ‘It interests me for a few seconds until I realise that it is not music but the sound of a billion insects flying down from the mountain.’
    • ‘In rainy periods, when few insects are flying, the birds switch to ground feeding.’
    • ‘The birds flew from their nests in the trees and insects stopped their chirping.’
    • ‘Lynx got up and went to the window, and barely saw a black bird flying off into the distance.’
    • ‘While a person may hop on one foot, it is difficult to envision a bird flying with only one wing.’
    • ‘The raptor folds its wings, brings its talons forward, and careens toward the outstretched wings of an unsuspecting bird flying below.’
    travel through the air, wing its way, wing, glide, soar, wheel
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of an aircraft or its occupants) travel through the air.
      ‘I fly back to New York this evening’
      • ‘If anyone stuck in their car looked up, they could see airplanes flying low as they took off from the airport.’
      • ‘And apart from the noise of helicopters flying overhead, there was no indication, even from a couple of streets away, that there was any trouble.’
      • ‘Then the F - 16 fighter planes flew overhead, which is always impressive.’
      • ‘The airplane flew reasonably well despite the temporarily deformed airfoil.’
      • ‘They said they saw an aircraft flying at a high altitude just before the blast.’
      • ‘As the aircraft flew over his house, the engine started to cut out and was sputtering.’
      • ‘Unbeknown to the pilot, the altimeter had been damaged and the aircraft was flying very low.’
      • ‘Massive concrete walls and a thick concrete roof would ensure that recording sessions would be unaffected even by the noise of a helicopter flying overhead.’
      • ‘One aircraft flying from Heathrow to Geneva had to divert into Lyon because bad weather meant it could not land.’
      • ‘Planes burn less fuel at higher altitudes, so pilots often fly at higher altitudes on long flights.’
      • ‘When an airplane is flying, it has a good deal of forward speed and airflow over all of its surfaces.’
      • ‘The aircraft flew to New York and back twice between July 21 and the final takeoff on July 25.’
      • ‘In addition, the newer aircraft can fly higher and have a greater range than the older planes.’
      • ‘Then after that we saw 7 airplanes flying around in the sky.’
      • ‘Two helicopters carrying cameras will fly overhead looking down over the stadium and Cardiff city’
      • ‘Air Force jets and police helicopters continued to fly overhead at regular intervals, yet at street level all was unusually quiet.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the fifth aircraft flew into a sand storm and crashed, killing the pilot and mechanic.’
      • ‘The aircraft flies at altitudes high enough that there is no acoustic footprint.’
      • ‘Several eyewitnesses reported observing the airplane flying over the city prior to the accident.’
      • ‘After nearly nine months of work, he said that it was very pleasing to see the aircraft flying once again.’
      go by air, travel by air, go by plane, travel by plane, jet
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Control the flight of (an aircraft); pilot.
      • ‘The autopilot helps fly the airplane while the pilots run the appropriate checklists.’
      • ‘The nearest aircraft was regularly flown by Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton.’
      • ‘This reduced the amount of control forces and the frequency of control movements required to fly the aircraft.’
      • ‘The aircraft is flown by five crew members: the pilot and co-pilot, flight engineer and two loadmasters.’
      • ‘If a pilot didn't fly his own airplane for six months or more, he often was the only one who knew.’
      • ‘Then again, you'll have to admit, the men who fly our modern airliners are experts - they have to be!’
      • ‘The autopilot can fly an airplane once in the air, and land it, but it cannot be used during takeoff.’
      • ‘However, it was not unusual for a pilot with an assigned aircraft to fly whatever aircraft was serviceable on any given day.’
      • ‘Mr Hitchins, who had more experience flying gliders than aircraft, had not flown to Wadswick before so invited Mr Moore to come with him.’
      • ‘They fly heavy tankers that deliver gas to other aircraft in midair.’
      • ‘I will be wearing standard US issue flight gear, and I will be flying a navy aircraft clearly marked as a US warplane.’
      • ‘The foundation of a successful aviation career is a burning desire to fly airplanes.’
      • ‘In 1900, German Count von Zeppelin flew his first airship.’
      • ‘Only our most experienced pilots were allowed to fly this new airplane at the time.’
      • ‘When flying a helicopter the controls need to be manually held at all times.’
      • ‘The aircraft is flown by two flight crew with between six and ten mission crew.’
      • ‘I flew the airplane correctly, managed the emergency properly and extended the glide almost to its limits.’
      • ‘The location of the engines, high on the fuselage, allows the pilot to fly the aircraft fairly easily with one engine inoperable.’
      • ‘We know that you served as an Air Force Academy liaison officer when you weren't flying airliners.’
      • ‘The aircraft is flown by two pilots rather than four aircrew.’
      pilot, operate, control, manoeuvre, steer, guide, direct, navigate
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3with object and adverbial of direction Transport in an aircraft.
      ‘helicopters flew the injured to a hospital’
      • ‘A total of 28 orphaned Great Bustard chicks were flown to the UK from Russia in the autumn, and released into the wild on Salisbury Plain.’
      • ‘He was flown by police helicopter to Hull Royal Infirmary, where he underwent emergency surgery to remove the post from his chest.’
      • ‘They were flown to the capital along with other wounded personnel.’
      • ‘After a motorcade ride to Dulles, the turkeys were flown to California to their new home at Disneyland.’
      • ‘She commissioned the state helicopter to fly her home when she learned that her baby had a medical emergency.’
      • ‘Cliff Richard celebrates his 60th birthday in style - he's flying guests in by helicopter to his cruise liner somewhere in the Mediterranean.’
      • ‘Soldiers were then flown by Black Hawk or Caribou to Line Creek junction.’
      • ‘New Zealand has offered to fund a helicopter to fly a team of four doctors into Nias to treat the earthquake injured, and Prime Minister Helen Clark promised more aid will follow.’
      • ‘But Naval engineers, based in the Islands, repaired the cross, which was flown back by Chinook helicopter.’
      • ‘The injured boy was flown by helicopter to hospital, where he was treated for multiple bites to the arms and legs.’
      • ‘But he asked, apparently, for a helicopter to fly him in every day from wherever he was, and they bounced him.’
      • ‘After his aborted sentencing hearing, he was escorted from the courtroom by his guards and boarded the helicopter to be flown back to his cell.’
      • ‘Paramedics had to call out an RAF helicopter to fly a seriously ill baby 200 miles from Rochdale to an intensive care bed in London.’
      • ‘Two other US soldiers were injured and were flown by helicopter back to a field hospital in the capital where they were in a ‘stable’ condition last night.’
      • ‘Then in January, Ramsey was flown to Toronto, along with other finalists, for a final round of interviews at the Bank of Montreal's Institute for Learning.’
      • ‘Shortly after their birth, the children were flown by helicopter to the world renowned Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for observation and treatment.’
      • ‘Jim applied for the job, took a test, and was one of four finalists who were flown out for an interview with Bill.’
      • ‘The exiled militants were flown by British military transport to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus were they were put up at a seaside hotel under police guard.’
      • ‘They are sending a transport aircraft to fly relief to Grand Bahama.’
      • ‘Requests to have the game postponed by 24 hours were dismissed so officials saw only one option and that was to hire a helicopter to fly him back.’
      transport by air, transport by plane, airlift, lift, jet
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4with object Accomplish (a purpose) in an aircraft.
      ‘pilots trained to fly combat missions’
      • ‘Close air support sorties were flown during the ground war, but they were employed beyond the sight of the troops they supported.’
      • ‘After flying a few missions, Richard showed such talent that he received his own crew and was then a full pilot.’
      • ‘He was a skilled pilot who had flown combat missions with the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I.’
      • ‘They're cheap to run and cost much less than flying real missions.’
      • ‘Tony, who'd flown seven combat missions at the time, hadn't faced many threats.’
      • ‘They went along to keep an eye out for Air Force pilots flying the strike mission.’
      • ‘It was a combination of Air Force, Navy, and Marine pilots who flew the mission.’
      • ‘He'd flown combat missions in Vietnam and was one of the few aircrew members with combat experience.’
      • ‘One RAAF pilot flew two sorties on D-Day alongside his Allied counterparts.’
      • ‘I am curious why you used a call sign name to identify a Guard pilot flying homeland defense missions.’
      • ‘You would be hard pressed to find a young captain or major who hadn't flown combat sorties in the area of operations.’
      • ‘In 1944, as a civilian, he flew fifty combat missions in the Pacific theater and shot down one Japanese fighter.’
      • ‘Aid agencies begged for more air transport as a handful of exhausted helicopter crews flew non-stop missions.’
      • ‘It noted that aircraft from Ark Royal and Eagle had flown by then nearly a thousand surveillance sorties.’
      • ‘It was the first time since the Vietnam War that Royal Australian Air Force aircraft have flown close air support missions in support of Australian ground troops in a war zone.’
      • ‘Other women fly deep combat missions in the Navy and Air Force.’
      • ‘During wartime service in the Pacific, he flew fifty-eight combat missions.’
      • ‘He said his father was also training Peruvian pilots to fly combat missions.’
      • ‘On 17 June, he was flying his third mission of the day and bombing a bridge near Paris.’
      • ‘Brave French airmen who flew missions over their homeland from Britain during the Second World War have been remembered at the Yorkshire Air Museum.’
    5. 1.5with object Release (a bird) to fly, especially a hawk for hunting or a pigeon for racing.
      • ‘He was prepared to provide T-bar perches for installation in areas where he regularly flew the birds.’
      • ‘He is a great falconer, and has promised to fly his hawks on Friday for my amusement.’
      • ‘He would go up on to the roof each morning at dawn to fly his beloved birds into the clear sky.’
      • ‘It was not the most suitable of places to fly an eagle.’
      • ‘Captive-bred birds are easy to come by now, but the time needed to look after and fly a bird is still a rare commodity.’
  • 2Move or be hurled quickly through the air.

    ‘balls kept flying over her hedge’
    ‘he was sent flying by the tackle’
    • ‘The farther the ride went, the more speed it picked up and the more things started flying out of the car.’
    • ‘‘Once they got out on to the streets there was so much debris flying around that you cannot tell what happened to everyone,’ she said.’
    • ‘Punches were thrown, chairs sent flying, a woman pushed to the floor and spectators in the packed arena sent running for cover, according to reports from the scene.’
    • ‘Thank goodness it's a passive recreation area, which means that no soccer balls will come flying into the chanting crowds as soccer in the park is prohibited.’
    • ‘It was a breezy southwesterly gale which caused overflowing dustbins to be sent flying through the masses.’
    • ‘"I don't think so, " he said, spittle flying from his mouth.’
    • ‘In fact, the impact was so great she felt herself being sent flying through the air.’
    • ‘Shards of plastic and even wheels had been sent flying across the street into gardens and hedges.’
    • ‘Errant sparks fly through the air landing on lower branches and underbrush for rapid ignition.’
    • ‘The ball flew into the Cubs' dugout, through the door, and into the adjoining bathroom, bouncing into the toilet bowl.’
    • ‘Men and bikes were sent flying into the safety fence, but both managed to walk away.’
    • ‘He was sent flying across the room and slammed into the wall.’
    • ‘The arrow flew straight to the mark and buried itself into the lion's chest.’
    • ‘I grunted angrily as we clashed swords, sparks flying off in every direction.’
    • ‘The windows on nearby buildings exploded, people were thrown back, and cars were sent flying into nearby buildings.’
    • ‘Stomping my feet with anger I was about to turn around and go back inside the house when the ball magically came flying over the fence back to my side again.’
    • ‘Bullets flew in my direction as I dodged behind the stall.’
    • ‘A log on the campfire near us cracked and collapsed, making sparks fly up into the air.’
    • ‘A little piece of a pickle came flying out of my mouth and attached itself to his shirt.’
    • ‘The slower rotation speed reduces the chance of the turbine flying out of it's housing.’
    1. 2.1 (of accusations or insults) be exchanged swiftly and heatedly.
      ‘the accusations flew thick and fast’
      • ‘As Congress tries to wrap up its work, insults are flying.’
      • ‘A lot of allegations are flying at the moment; it is not clear whether they are true, and it is proper to wait for Zuma's trial, when they will be tested.’
      • ‘Accusations fly, jeopardizing her long, mostly happy marriage to Ned, a struggling artist.’
      • ‘The political insults flying about the place certainly make it feel as though the starting pistol's been fired.’
      • ‘More understandably, accusations flew about rail chiefs putting profit before passenger safety.’
      • ‘Vituperative accusations flew back and forth between the two candidates.’
      • ‘And as if that was not enough, only last week there were accusations flying that standards among school newcomers were dropping.’
      • ‘Obviously, as you can imagine, the charges and countercharges are flying fast and furious.’
      • ‘If that weren't enough, the insults and accusations were flying like sand on a pre-school playground.’
      • ‘Accusations are already flying between the German Government, opposition parties, federal ministries and teachers.’
      • ‘Yet with so many accusations flying, it seems no amount of medical science is going to settle the matter.’
      • ‘Simon was turned down by the residents' committee with accusations flying about who was rudest to who.’
      • ‘No one is safe as the accusations fly, sides are taken and irreversible decisions are forced to be made.’
      • ‘Once again accusations are flying about the lack of consultation over health services.’
      • ‘Shows were cancelled and accusations flew between members of the band as to who was to blame.’
      • ‘Accusations flew around that Scott had written the book for the money, and that the leak was a deliberate attempt to gain maximum publicity.’
      • ‘The guy laughed, and soon enough a torrent of crude jokes and insults were flying around.’
      • ‘Since the most recent round of devastating fires, the accusations have flown thick and fast.’
      • ‘Already accusations are flying that the bid is rigged and fixed and they already know who is going to win.’
      • ‘This led to another huge argument with insults flying from left to right and back again.’
      • ‘And the accusations of sexism keep flying in thick and fast.’
    2. 2.2 (of a report) be circulated among many people.
      ‘rumors were flying around Chicago’
      • ‘‘That speculation has been flying around for a while now and I've nothing really to add to it,’ said the Rovers chief.’
      • ‘Family are divided, there is no consensus, and information flying around differs, so it's hard for people to decide who is right on this one.’
      • ‘We have to be mindful of the conspiracy theories flying around the community.’
      • ‘Judging from all the telephone calls and emails flying around right now among intelligence veterans, the mood is one of disappointment and genuine concern.’
      • ‘There's even a rumour flying around that it might be Manchester City, given Keane's long-standing friendship with Stuart Pearce.’
      • ‘Company commanders have, of course, briefed them, but there's still a lot of other information flying around.’
      • ‘With all the rumours that were flying around about the newspaper's feature on the nightclub, I couldn't help myself; I had to get my hands on the article and read it myself.’
      • ‘Rumours are currently flying around cyberspace that there might be a further three episodes of Star Wars in the pipeline.’
      • ‘This, despite their assertions of moral rectitude, implies that it is hard to make an informed judgment on an issue such as this with so much disinformation flying around.’
      • ‘Rumours are flying around the place at a rate of knots, everyone is understandably worried.’
      • ‘It's been the hot topic of the World Cup, with conspiracy theories flying thick and fast as powerful teams have fallen to lesser soccer countries.’
      • ‘I think it was important to make clear how it happened, what happened during it, and how it ended, rather than all the speculation and the fabrications that were flying around.’
      • ‘Then yesterday in the mid afternoon text messages began flying around the town that the Alexander The Great star was perched on a bar stool in the Purty Kitchen Pub with some friends.’
      • ‘Another is that he was a defector and he just wanted to get away from the war, and all of this has been flying around in the last few days, and really no clear sense of what the true story is, is yet to emerge.’
      • ‘Rumors were flying around that there was all this partying going on, on the ‘Miami Vice’ set.’
      • ‘The online poll is, of course, completely unscientific, but is it any less so than the exit polls whose numbers are flying around the web?’
      • ‘The rumours are flying around the government.’
    3. 2.3Baseball with adverbial of direction Hit a ball high into the air.
      ‘Gwynn flied to left’
      • ‘With Wakefield up in the pen yet again as Francona burned through his options, Curt Leskanic came in and got Williams to fly to center to end the inning.’
      • ‘The deciding run, in the fourth inning, came as Crabtree tripled after Longacre fell trying to make the catch and Kurowski flew to right.’
      • ‘He was in the outfield when Houston pitcher Bill Greason flew to left.’
    4. 2.4fly outBaseball (of a batter) be put out by hitting a fly ball that is caught.
      • ‘He came to his senses and struck out Diaz and Lofton and got Vizquel to fly out to left field.’
      • ‘With two men on and one out in the top of the sixth, he got the next two batters to fly out.’
      • ‘He pulls everything to right when he's on the money and either strikes out or flies out weakly to left when he's wrong.’
      • ‘Spencer is not getting on top of enough pitches and, as a result, is flying out frequently.’
  • 3with adverbial (especially of hair) wave or flutter in the wind.

    ‘they were running, hair flying everywhere’
    • ‘In that touching movie, the hero Tristan often rode a horse, his long hair flying in the wind.’
    • ‘We've all seen the image of the person on the motorcycle with her hair flying behind her in the wind.’
    • ‘A sight she looked, with her wind swept hair flying about her.’
    • ‘His brown hair flew wildly in the wind, and a smirk played upon his lips.’
    • ‘Carried by the elements, the boat comes to life and we ride its bare back, salt spray in our faces, hair flying behind us, gasping with exhilaration.’
    • ‘She sighed dramatically, her silky black hair flying in the wind as she became increasingly frustrated.’
    • ‘Shaking his head back and forth his hair flew everywhere, hand waving at the side of his head as if he smelled something bad.’
    • ‘Her black hair flew in the wind and she enjoyed the sheer exhilaration of the ride.’
    • ‘My hair was flying in the wind with no absolute direction.’
    • ‘Tears were forming in her bright blue eyes, her long blonde hair flying in the wind, while walking out to the parking lot.’
    • ‘The wind caressed my face and my hair flew like a cape behind me.’
    • ‘The really nasty bikers are easy to spot; they are the ones with long hair flying briskly in the wind, riding really fast.’
    • ‘Her hair flew haphazardly behind her as her horse raced against the wind.’
    • ‘His eyes shone and his hair was flying wildly in the wind.’
    • ‘My hair flew behind me, the wind whistling through each strand.’
    • ‘Her long golden brown and auburn hair flew behind her as the wind pushed it back.’
    • ‘Hair flying in the wind, she urged her horse towards the high jump and sailed smoothly over the stacked logs.’
    • ‘She and Kristina went out into the square and ran around with their hair flying in the wind.’
    • ‘Her hair was blowing freely in the wind and her cloak flew behind her, she felt so free when riding like nothing could touch her and she could do as she pleased.’
    • ‘Her dishevelled hair flew wildly in the wind, framing a bewildered look.’
    flutter, flap, wave, blow, waft, float, stream
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 (with reference to a flag) display or be displayed on a flagpole.
      ‘flags were flying at half-mast’
      • ‘No one partied harder than the people of Bolton, with flags flying patriotically from flagpoles and bunting between the houses.’
      • ‘The reception was held in the Manor Court Hotel and the happy couple will reside at Rathnaskillogue where the Kilkenny and Waterford flags have been flying for some weeks.’
      • ‘The flag flew from every public building, from every municipal flagpole, and from every structure of consequence in the land.’
      • ‘The flag was flying on the flagpole, meaning that Her Majesty was at home.’
      • ‘The flag flew from the Post Office - at half mast for the death of any important person.’
      • ‘On the Capitol flagpole, the Lone Star flies below the American flag, emblem of the few brief years when slaveholding Texas was its own republic.’
      display, show, exhibit
      View synonyms
  • 4usually with adverbial of direction Go or move quickly.

    ‘she flew along the path’
    • ‘The tank then flew away at a blistering speed.’
    • ‘Luke took Hailey's hand in his, and the two hastily flew down the stairs and out of the lighthouse.’
    • ‘My fingers were flying over the keyboard, making words and sentences and thoughts.’
    • ‘The book, new to the market, is currently flying off the shelves.’
    • ‘She came flying out of the bathroom, hands fumbling to attach a backing to an earring.’
    • ‘She felt her fingertips flying over the fret board.’
    • ‘But she said that the traditional favourite costumes are still flying off the shelves.’
    • ‘The postal pipe hugs the curb, rivulets of rain on it trembling every time a package flies along it.’
    • ‘‘We get lorries and all sorts flying along, and people do not drive for the conditions of the road at all,’ she said.’
    • ‘The horse flew smoothly along the ground, her muscles moving in perfect synchronization with each other.’
    • ‘I flew recklessly quickly down the stairs, and ripped my front door open.’
    • ‘I can go into a state of zen-like calm and concentration, while my fingers fly across the keyboard.’
    • ‘He and I took one look at each other before flying down the stairs.’
    • ‘You'll be flying along, and you come around a corner and the weather's totally different from what you left.’
    • ‘Traffic flies along the A19 and too few motorists adjust to the speed restriction imposed at Thormanby.’
    1. 4.1informal Depart hastily.
      ‘I must fly!’
      • ‘‘Thank you.’ Claudia stood up. ‘I have to fly! We must get together for dinner soon!’’
      • ‘We too must fly, so stride briskly over the bridge to Boat Of Garten, from where a steam railway plies its way across the moor to Aviemore, giving another magnificent aspect of the mountains.’
      • ‘Well, I really must fly, darling. Congratulations on your engagement and I shall see you on Saturday night!’
      • ‘And they've just put out the second call for our flight, so I must fly…’
      race, hurry, hasten, flash, dash, dart, rush, shoot, speed, hurtle, streak, really move, spank along, whirl, whizz, go like lightning, go hell for leather, whoosh, buzz, zoom, swoop, blast, charge
      View synonyms
    2. 4.2 (of time) pass swiftly.
      ‘how time flies!’
      • ‘Those long winters on Lewis must have just flown by.’
      • ‘Those long winter nights at the Gert household must absolutely fly by.’
      • ‘You'll have so much fun putting a project together that time flies.’
      • ‘How the long winter nights must fly by at Chez Blaine.’
      • ‘Another weekend has flown past and Easter is looming up pretty fast again this year.’
      • ‘Our five days in Germany's capital city flew along quickly even though the first week of January is more like an extended siesta period for Germans.’
      go quickly, fly by, fly past, pass swiftly, slip past, rush past
      View synonyms
    3. 4.3archaic Run away; flee.
      ‘those that fly may fight again’
      • ‘it was to the English he must have flown for protection, and to them he would naturally have communicated his fears.’
      • ‘These people know of my crime; perhaps they will not fly from me, and will only kill me.’
      • ‘Yet you did not fly from me, nor did I fly from you: we are innocent towards one another in our unfaithfulness.’
      • ‘And now Edward, in his turn, was compelled to fly from the country, and to take refuge with his brother-in-law, the Duke of Burgundy.’
      • ‘She obtained employment as a servant in several places but was followed up by her husband and uncle, and compelled to fly from one place to another.’
      flee, run, run away, run off, make a run for it, run for it, take flight, be gone, make off, take off, take to one's heels, make a break for it, bolt, beat a retreat, beat a hasty retreat, make a quick exit, make one's getaway, escape, absent oneself, make oneself scarce, abscond, head for the hills, do a disappearing act
      View synonyms
    4. 4.4archaic with object Escape from in haste; flee from.
      ‘you must fly the country for a while’
      • ‘Regard for you has checked my course towards my leafy home, while duty to my country urges me to fly this place.’
      • ‘This is no time for thanks, Mr. Peters, unless it is to the Lord; you must fly the country, and that at once!’
      • ‘Protestants, wherever they could obtain shipping, hasted to fly the country.’
      • ‘Beware of telling any one of our existence; or we must fly this land.’
      • ‘He was compelled to fly the realm for having murdered a woman with child.’
      run away from, leave abruptly, leave hastily, flee, escape from
      View synonyms
  • 5North American informal Be successful.

    ‘that idea didn't fly with most other council members’
    • ‘This film usually gets great ratings, but it just didn't fly for me.’
    • ‘If this idea flies, I have no problem in supporting it and finding the ways to make it feasible.’
    • ‘‘I don't think this is going to fly at all,’ he said. ‘It’s not going to happen.’’
    • ‘It didn't fly with the public. People didn't get it.’
    • ‘Here's one we prepared earlier on the current state of the art, and presumably if the UK scheme flies it will be along the lines of the US stuff.’

nounPlural flies

  • 1An opening at the crotch of a pair of pants, closed with a zipper or buttons and typically covered with a flap.

    • ‘Go and try on a pair of Levi's 501s with the original button fly.’
    • ‘We make boxers with fake flies, no flies, and button flies.’
    • ‘Which is always like being caught in public with your fly open and your shirttail sticking through.’
    • ‘The Tory could not work out why they were so jovial and even checked his trouser flies to make sure he had not caused the merriment by ‘flying low’.’
    • ‘Perhaps I should turn up late, reeking of red wine and motel sheets, with lipstick on my collar and my flies down.’
    • ‘Boys, nay men, need to remember to wipe the toothpaste from the corners of their mouth, the crumbs from their beards and not to catch their shirts in their flies.’
    • ‘He'd haphazardly pulled his tuxedo trousers on, zipping the fly but leaving the button tantalizingly undone.’
    • ‘His knees buckle as he automatically checks his flies are fastened, coughs and addresses us, increasingly demented.’
    • ‘I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's fly.’
    • ‘Imagine my reaction then as I stumble out of the cupboard buttoning up the flies on my jeans and two secretaries are walking past.’
    • ‘If there's a zipper or button fly, mark the folded edge of the overlap side and use the leg on that side.’
    • ‘These flat-front relaxed chinos have a zipper fly, button tab, inside button, and on-seam pockets.’
    • ‘I suppose the male equivalent to these little secrets was flying at half mast, flying low or egg on your face, to indicate undone or untidy trouser flies.’
    • ‘Interesting alternatives are Velcro straps or, if the shorts fit perfectly, stylish button flies.’
    1. 1.1 A flap of material covering the opening or fastening of a garment or of a tent.
      as modifier, in combination ‘a fly-fronted shirt’
      • ‘The tent's fly flutters in the wind a little.’
      • ‘I do not like how far I have to reach from the inside of the tent to the zip on the fly.’
      • ‘After the exterior of the tent's fly dries, remove it and drape it over a bush or tree limb with the interior exposed.’
      • ‘We use our ice axes to stake down the fly, but it flaps as violently as a trapped bird.’
  • 2the fliesThe space over the stage in a theater.

    • ‘The National Theatre, with its push-button revolving stage, its sets which came out of the flies or up from the floor, was one of the mechanical wonders of the age.’
    • ‘A dancer will be lowered like a window washer, bucket and squeegee in hand, from the flies of the stage.’
    • ‘The rest, even while the scenery keeps rising from the floor or descending from the flies, remains unremittingly flat.’
    • ‘Suspended from the flies or moving in slow motion, she was a spiritual warrior and her chalked, nude body was her testing ground.’
    • ‘Also all sorts of bolts of cloth unrolled this way and that or unfurling from the flies, sometimes covering the entire cast, though not for long enough.’
  • 3Baseball

    short for fly ball
    • ‘He led off the top of the ninth inning with a high fly down the left field line.’
    • ‘This season, he's producing a lot of weak pop flies and grounders.’
    • ‘He steals a base up by 10 runs or down by 10, and he's standing on second base by the time his routine fly to center field is caught.’
    • ‘In years gone by, if a fielder caught a foul fly while stepping into the dugout, it was ruled a legal catch.’
    • ‘In 1941, Williams hit six long flies that drove in a runner from third base.’
  • 4British historical A one-horse hackney carriage.

    • ‘Just lie down here for a few minutes until I can procure a fly, and I will have you there in a jiffy.’
    • ‘In half a minute the light of the lanterns fell upon a hired fly, drawn by a steaming and jaded horse.’
    • ‘He was on a visit to a friend, and met with his death through an accident while riding in a fly.’
    • ‘The season at Solentsea was now past: the parade was gloomy, and the flys were few and cheap.’
    • ‘I paid my bill at the hotel, and hired a fly to take me to the town.’

Phrases

  • fly high

    • Be very successful; prosper.

      ‘that young man is the sort to fly high’
      • ‘But she is a very happy woman today, seeing her daughter flying high.’
      • ‘Five air cadets are flying high after winning Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards.’
      • ‘Tourism was flying high this August Bank Holiday weekend, a year after the foot and mouth crisis threatened a serious dent in the area's economy.’
      • ‘Pubs, restaurants and shops at Middlebrook and the rest of the town thrives when the club is flying high.’
      • ‘As part of its platinum jubilee celebrations, it has planned a series of programmes that would keep the art of India flying high.’
      • ‘It all means the economy, so long flying high in the clouds, is set for a crash landing, albeit after the next election.’
      • ‘Emmerdale has been flying high in the TV ratings recently, attracting an audience of almost ten million.’
      • ‘A young pigeon fancier is flying high after his new hobby saw him racing ahead of the competition.’
      • ‘The small club have been flying high in the top division.’
      • ‘While Brandon's career is flying high, Courtney insists the action star hasn't changed at all.’
      • ‘The prime minister was flying high in the middle of last year.’
  • fly in the face of

    • Be openly at variance with (what is usual or expected)

      ‘a need to fly in the face of convention’
      • ‘This flies in the face of what the king's supporters want.’
      • ‘It flies in the face of reason and logic to expect such a thing.’
      • ‘This kind of charity flies in the face of all the economic truths that are evident and all the truths we have been told by the government.’
      • ‘This approach may fly in the face of what the public wants.’
      • ‘Of course, that completely flies in the face of what is really happening.’
      • ‘‘The Home Secretary has chosen to fly in the face of so much compelling evidence that the law needs to be changed,’ said Mr Davis.’
      • ‘However, at least one of the contributors is an American, which seems to fly in the face of what they are attempting.’
      • ‘Miss Lyall said: ‘It was flying in the face of what central government were saying.’’
      • ‘This government continues to fly in the face of not just international opinion, but commonsense and decency.’
      • ‘The idea not only seemed illogical, it also flew in the face of what the Government was trying to achieve in the first place.’
      go against, flout, defy, disobey, refuse to obey, rebel against, thumb one's nose at, disregard, ignore, set one's face against, kick against
      View synonyms
  • fly into a rage (or temper)

    • Become suddenly or violently angry.

      • ‘She would line all her toys up on the drive and if one was moved would fly into a rage.’
      • ‘A drunken police officer flew into a rage and punched two students when told he had missed his last train home after a Christmas party.’
      • ‘AN 18-year-old flew into a rage when he thought his girlfriend was involved with another man.’
      • ‘She suspected her mother would fly into a rage if she asked her this question.’
      • ‘I have met men who can fix a broken kettle or a toaster without flying into a temper and shouting at the kids.’
      • ‘If everything was not perfect he could fly into a rage.’
      • ‘Ian flew into a rage, vowing never to speak to his younger brother or wife again.’
      • ‘All I did was stick my tongue out and he flew into a rage.’
      • ‘When Teresa refused he flew into a violent rage, and seriously assaulted her.’
      • ‘Her mother said she didn't believe her, flew into a rage, and threw her out of the house.’
  • fly the nest

    • 1(of a young bird) leave its nest on becoming able to fly.

      • ‘It is fascinating keeping an eye on them and I look forward to seeing the eggs hatch and the young birds fly the nest.’
      • ‘What happens is when they fly the nest the muscles in their wings aren't quite strong enough.’
      • ‘The council will now have to wait for the eggs to hatch and the chicks to fly the nest before sending the demolition men back in, unless a bid for a special licence to remove the nest is granted.’
      • ‘They have protected the nest since March, and continue to do so now the fledglings are almost ready to fly the nest.’
      • ‘Now the three fledglings are taking to the skies every day as they prepare to fly the nest, although they return home to the quarry each night.’
      • ‘The eggs have now hatched into four tiny pied wagtails, and Mr Thompson and his men are waiting for them to fly the nest, so the truck can go back on the road.’
      • ‘The nestlings, grey coloured until they get their adult feathers, fly the nest 17-21 days after hatching.’
      1. 1.1informal (of a young person) leave their parents' home to set up home elsewhere.
        • ‘The number of young people in the UK who have yet to fly the nest is still below the European average, and significantly fewer than their counterparts in Italy.’
        • ‘As a man of almost 70 who has his only two sons still living with him at home at the ages of 38 and 30 and - unfortunately - showing little sign of flying the nest, I would be deliriously happy to have a grandchild.’
        • ‘It's not just that he's upset about his kids flying the nest.’
        • ‘Admittedly, they are a bit young yet to be flying the nest, and I wasn't intimating that I was especially anxious to be rid of them.’
        • ‘Exasperated parents are handing over thousands of pounds to encourage their grown-up children to fly the nest and take their own first steps on the property ladder.’
        • ‘So that's another sibling to vacate Southport; another is likely to fly the nest in the not too distant future, even my parents are looking at moving themselves.’
        • ‘Several changes in her life, including her children flying the nest, have meant that now is the right time for a change.’
        • ‘When he left for university it was his mum that did all the crying, I was pleased for him for flying the nest and making his own way.’
        • ‘It wasn't long before she decided to fly the nest and make her way to Paris, where her jobs included modelling, waitressing and learning to cook at the La Varenne school.’
        • ‘Marriages frequently run into trouble under the strain of dealing with rebellious teenagers, or when the children fly the nest.’
  • fly off the handle

    • informal Lose one's temper suddenly and unexpectedly.

      • ‘Just because you need to buy a cable in addition to your printer does not give you license to fly off the handle at the sales rep.’
      • ‘I think if you understood the back story of my frustrating relationship with this overpriced garage you might appreciate why I flew off the handle.’
      • ‘There are still moments when they fly off the handle, but for the most part they understand that they are safe here.’
      • ‘Now 15, he is every bit the troubled teen, picking fights and flying off the handle at his closest friends.’
      • ‘This issue is personal for me - that's why I'm flying off the handle.’
      • ‘I took a deep breath and tried not to fly off the handle.’
      • ‘But touch on anything emotional and Andrew flies off the handle.’
      • ‘I became incredibly moody - well, irritable, really - and would behave in a way most unlike me, flying off the handle at the least provocation.’
      • ‘We can't have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.’
      • ‘I'm sorry if it seems like I'm flying off the handle, but I'm just a bit disturbed and upset right now.’
      lose one's temper, become very angry, fly into a rage, explode, blow up, erupt, lose control, go berserk, breathe fire, begin to rant and rave, flare up, boil over
      View synonyms
  • go fly a kite

    • informal in imperativeGo away.

      • ‘I'm certain it's far beyond your comprehension. Why don't you just go fly a kite?’
      • ‘And if it attempted to subpoena those documents, the White House would tell it to go fly a kite.’
      • ‘The Government has now legislated a convoluted process whereby criminals can profit and victims can go fly a kite.’
      • ‘If someone suggests that you should go fly a kite today, it's probably because you've been too intense.’
      • ‘Franklin wanted the turkey and they told him to go fly a kite.’
  • on the fly

    • 1While in motion or progress.

      ‘his deep shot was caught on the fly’
      • ‘The rap against him is he makes mistakes in coverage and has trouble adjusting on the fly.’
      • ‘I have numerous ways that I catch and categorize information on the fly.’
      • ‘Workers must be able to access and manage their communications on the fly, and at a moment's notice from anywhere in the world.’
      • ‘It is a fantastic note-taking application, which will really aid those constantly collecting data on the fly.’
      • ‘I ask you: who's speaking his heart, and who's crafting a response on the fly trying to cover all bases?’
      • ‘This is not so much a carelessly structured story as a story made up on the fly.’
      • ‘Mail was picked up on the fly using a catch arm on the side of the car swung out by a Railway Mail Clerk who at the same time kicked off a sack of mail for that place.’
      • ‘She's able to do a translation on the fly and read the email to you in seamless English.’
      • ‘Are your adventures carefully planned out in several notebooks, or done on the fly?’
      1. 1.1During the running of a computer program without interrupting the run.
        • ‘Most of the pages are generated on the fly through a database query.’
        • ‘Graphical charts can be generated on the fly from this data or generated as static pages at scheduled intervals.’
        • ‘Volumes of storage can be allocated to application servers on the fly, without interrupting operation.’
        • ‘This will provide instant access to company data in documents created on screen on the fly.’
        • ‘The tests even simulate how networks make bandwidth and other changes on the fly.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • fly at

    • 1Attack (someone) verbally or physically.

      ‘Robbie flew at him, fists clenched’
      • ‘Before I can even think about it, I fly at him, with the express purpose of attacking him and leaving him nothing less than a non-breathing entity.’
      • ‘She is locked up after flying at John Reed who beat her.’
      • ‘But springing back up, the teen didn't even miss a beat before he was flying at Greg again, fist raised for the attack.’
      • ‘She flew at her father, beating him.’
      • ‘Diana's eyes popped open and in a mindless rage she flew at him, beating her fists on everything she could reach.’
      • ‘She flew at one of the attackers.’
      • ‘Malcolm hadn't moved an inch, even as I'd been flying at him.’
      attack, assault, make an assault on, launch an attack on, pounce on, set upon, set about, launch oneself at, weigh into, let fly at, turn on, round on, lash out at, hit out at, strike out at, beset, belabour, fall on, accost, mug, charge, rush, storm
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1(of a hawk) pursue and attack, or habitually pursue (prey).
        • ‘Suddenly the hawk flies at something a long way off. It's a squirrel running on the ground.’
        • ‘He compared the actions of parliament to a hawk flying at a covey of partridge.’
      2. 1.2Send a hawk to pursue and attack (prey).
        • ‘The Emperor himself living in a wooden house, his exercise only flying a hawk at pigeons.’
        • ‘I love better to fly a hawk at a heron, or to crush a cup with a friend, than. listen to their droning chants and their dull sermons.’
        • ‘He let fly a hawk at some game.’
        • ‘For a time I flew a hawk at ducks on certain small ponds about a quarter hour's drive from my laboratory.’
        • ‘Training and flying a hawk at prey species is what falconry is all about.’

Origin

Old English flēogan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vliegen and German fliegen, also to fly.

Pronunciation

fly

/flī//flaɪ/

Main definitions of fly in US English:

: fly1fly2fly3

fly2

nounPlural flies

  • 1A flying insect of a large order characterized by a single pair of transparent wings and sucking (and often also piercing) mouthparts. Flies are noted as vectors of disease.

    Order Diptera: numerous families

    See also Diptera
    • ‘They spend their days empty bellied and covered with a swarm of flies.’
    • ‘The wind blew the row cover off the seed bed leaving the tender young radishes exposed to the flies.’
    • ‘Spiders, she has reasoned correctly, are the natural predators of flies.’
    • ‘They had a telescope where you could see a fly on a chimney from 300 feet away.’
    • ‘The caterers spent the entire time flapping their arms in a furious, but futile attempt to discourage the flies.’
    • ‘I stayed near the opening where a small swarm of flies buzzed about outside.’
    • ‘The right wings of flies were removed using fine forceps and mounted on microscope slides using double-sided tape.’
    • ‘The mature larva emerges from the wound in six to 12 weeks, falls to the ground, and pupates into adult flies in about 30 days.’
    • ‘Insects, especially beetles, caterpillars, moths, and flies, are the most common prey.’
    • ‘The picture was so sharp I could see the flies buzzing around the animals.’
    • ‘She batted at the flies with her gloved hand and sighed.’
    • ‘There were also winged salamanders feasting on flying insects such as flies and mosquitoes.’
    • ‘Almost 40 years ago Ed Lewis discovered a remarkable fly that differs from an ordinary fly by one extra pair of wings.’
    • ‘A single fly was placed on the platform, and placidly stayed there, motionless, until the test stimulus was presented.’
    • ‘Raw and cooked food should always be kept and handled separately, and all food should be kept covered and out of the way of flies!’
    • ‘Failing to cover body wastes in open latrines promoted the spread of disease by flies.’
    • ‘On the up side, with the arrival of the rain came the departure of the flies.’
    • ‘Sensitive hairs on their bodies send data directly to the wings, so these flies can take off the instant motion is detected.’
    • ‘The adult female fly lays her eggs in moist decaying animal and plant wastes.’
    • ‘Manure stored in silo-type storage units may crust on the top, but cracks allow flies to deposit eggs in wet material below the crust.’
    1. 1.1usually in combination Used in names of flying insects of other orders, e.g. butterfly, dragonfly, firefly.
      • ‘A large lantern insect, the mealy fly is a sucking bug.’
      • ‘In the garden dill attracts beneficial insects, including bees, parasitic wasps and tachinid flies.’
      • ‘This diminutive wasp is a powerful natural enemy of the melon fly.’
      • ‘After a while I became quite good at spotting tsetse flies in the bungalow.’
      • ‘These are visited by a diverse array of animals, including bees, hawk moths, beetles, butterflies, long-tongued flies, hummingbirds and bats.’
      • ‘Donald Feener is an ecologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who studies the relationship between parasitic flies and ants.’
      • ‘The scientists say similar decoys can be tailor-made for other insect pests closely related to the apple maggot fly.’
      • ‘The female gall fly lays her eggs in young buds, causing the plant to form galls.’
      • ‘Why did the common name fruit fly supersede vinegar or pomace fly?’
      • ‘The same is true of tsetse flies that bring sleeping sickness to animals.’
      • ‘The Old World hunter fly seemingly enjoys a challenge.’
      • ‘The horn fly, Haematobia irritans, is probably the most important economically damaging ectoparasite of grazing cattle.’
    2. 1.2 An infestation of flying insects on a plant or animal.
      ‘cattle to be treated for warble fly’
      • ‘Where Mediterranean fruit fly is a potential problem, bait should be laid six weeks before picking.’
      • ‘The Mock Orange bush has a bad case of black fly already, and the rose bush has greenfly.’
      • ‘Some of the young bulbs on the lower deck are still green and you have to be alert for green fly.’
    3. 1.3 A natural or artificial flying insect used as bait in fishing, especially a mayfly.
      • ‘For early season use most anglers tend to fish the flies deeper and so use heavier hooks.’
      • ‘After all, he drove to the Big Hole in an automobile, fished with a fiberglass rod, and tied flies with synthetic materials.’
      • ‘In fact, it was Victorian fly fishermen, not scientists, who first studied these insects closely in order to imitate them with artificial flies.’
      • ‘Big perch can be taken on flies, spinners and plugs and in some areas there are big roach.’
      • ‘Although many game anglers tie their own flies, very few bother to make their own fly rods.’
      • ‘The artificial fly represents a food item be it insect, crustacean or smaller fish.’
      • ‘It was taken on a light trout rod at Beat 4 by Dutch angler Ulrich Treusch, who was using one of his own fly tying - a fly named the Morbun Special.’
      • ‘I use knotless tapered leaders but after attaching a few flies I tie in some tippet material when needed.’
      • ‘It doesn't seem to have any stretch which helps set the hook when your fishing deep with very big flies.’
      • ‘Then as I retrieved it slowly, I could see a good rainbow following in the wake of the fly.’
      • ‘And, then, there are those things that give fly fishing its name - the flies.’
      • ‘I wound in all my line, clipped off the fly, stowed the rod away and sat down in my padded seat.’
      • ‘Take the advice of local anglers for choice of flies and small popping plugs.’
      • ‘Lee not only produces flies commercially but also provides fly tying materials.’
      • ‘These flies may have brightly coloured bodies or long hackles and we can only guess at what the trout think they are.’
      • ‘There seems to be a culture that now associates using artificial lures and flies with the need to conserve our stocks for the future.’
      • ‘Jimmy has tied flies for international fishing teams.’
      • ‘Unlike in trout fishing, where an artificial fly is used, anglers hunting pike tend to go for bait such as small fish.’
      • ‘The best flies are streamers, those big creations that imitate bait fish or large nymphs.’
      • ‘Additionally, I do not like my flies too bulky and find that two strands of herl would be the most that I ever use.’

Phrases

  • die (or drop) like flies

    • Die or collapse in large numbers.

      ‘people in the area seemed to die like flies in the winter’
      • ‘Only a few days ago I was feeling smug about not coming down with anything even though my workmates were dropping like flies.’
      • ‘Children died like flies in those conditions.’
      • ‘They say that if these farmers are forced out of unproductive farming because of globalisation, then they will die like flies.’
      • ‘The fine animals that had endured the hellish voyage out from Britain died like flies from cold and sheer starvation.’
      • ‘My friends and classmates are dropping like flies, following me into the realm of living death.’
      • ‘Inmates are dropping like flies and being taken for emergency medical treatment.’
      • ‘Do you mean to tell me that they are just going to sit there while people continue to drop like flies and offer no solutions?’
      • ‘When people are dropping like flies in plagues and epidemics, some actually recover, while others in their midst remain unscathed.’
      • ‘It saddens me at the end of every semester to see my dance mates dropping like flies because of injuries.’
      • ‘Imagine you are being attacked from every angle, and your troops and vehicles are dropping like flies.’
  • a fly in the ointment

    • A minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something.

      • ‘The only fly in the ointment is the difficulty in getting good-sized crowds through the turnstiles.’
      • ‘The fly in the ointment for City fans is that if Spurs win their final game they could edge out both teams’
      • ‘The fly in the ointment will be if there are major planning hold-ups.’
      • ‘Am feeling fairly chilled at the moment - the only fly in the ointment at the moment is that Mum is coming to visit tomorrow’
      • ‘But there was still a tiny fly in the ointment - the sticky issue of which parent would gain custody of the kids in the unfortunate event of divorce.’
      • ‘Needless to say there is a bureaucratic fly in the ointment.’
      • ‘There is one fly in the ointment with Morris' plan - we don't have the money to do it.’
      • ‘The fly in the ointment for the Democrats, as reflected in this poll, is that they still don't have a candidate.’
      • ‘Yes, don't you know I'm going to throw a fly in the ointment?’
      • ‘There is, of course, one fly in the ointment, and that is the fact that space exploration costs money.’
      snag, hitch, catch, drawback, difficulty, problem, weakness, defect, pitfall, complication
      View synonyms
  • fly on the wall

    • 1An unnoticed observer of a particular situation.

      • ‘Should we be a fly on the wall, monitoring the conversations back and forth?’
      • ‘They will report back in six months with their recommendations, but, oh, to be a fly on the wall as this little lot get around the table.’
      • ‘I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in last week's Cabinet meeting.’
      • ‘If you were a fly on the wall at last Wednesday's annual general meeting in Limerick you could not fail to have been impressed by the way he withstood heckling from farmer shareholders.’
      • ‘Oh, to be a fly on the wall during all these discussions.’
      • ‘It is very disconcerting to be a fly on the wall as a band figures out what musical style best suits them (something that is generally determined before the studio album is recorded).’
      • ‘I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.’
      • ‘He reveals details of boardroom machinations and backstairs skirmishes which only a fly on the wall could have witnessed.’
      • ‘Women are born with the instinctive knowledge that men would love to snoop on our lunch conversations, or be a fly on the wall when we nip to the ladies for a little light synchronised nose-powdering.’
      • ‘Most contemporary memoirs leave you feeling cheap, like you've been a fly on the wall at a particularly horrific therapy session.’
      observer, spectator, onlooker, watcher, looker-on, viewer, witness, eyewitness
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1as modifierDenoting a filmmaking technique whereby events are observed realistically with minimum interference rather than acted out under direction.
        ‘a fly-on-the-wall documentary’
        • ‘I get increasingly exasperated by TV - cookery, gardening, soaps and fly on the wall documentaries all irritate me.’
        • ‘This is a ‘fly on the wall’ film in which we get to see the 3 band members in all their true colours.’
        • ‘It's a simple premise - a fly on the wall documentary in a London beauty salon.’
        • ‘The English actor detests reality TV, but admits he may have to appear in a fly-on-the-wall show if his acting career dries up.’
        • ‘Does anyone remember that fly on the wall documentary on channel 4 where some teenage kids looked after real children?’
        • ‘This spoof, fly on the wall, documentary is funny, scary, provocative, disturbing and has a real point to make.’
        • ‘You take a very fly-on-the-wall approach which allows the viewer to form their own opinions.’
  • wouldn't hurt (or harm) a fly

    • (of a person or animal) inoffensive and harmless.

      • ‘Yet, when people meet the man, they find that he is funny, genial, witty and charming and seemingly wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone drive a rival out of business.’
      • ‘I never really knew what kind of dog he was exactly, I just knew that he was a good dog and wouldn't hurt a fly.’
      • ‘In the witness box he looked like a frail, old man, the type who wouldn't hurt a fly, with always a pleasant word for the neighbours.’
      • ‘A close friend, who did not want to be named, today described Lorrie as a ‘lovely, shy man who had a heart of gold and wouldn't hurt a fly’.’
      • ‘He's a full bred Staffordshire Bullpit Rottweiler, and though he occasionally chews the bottom of the backdoor off, he's a harmless and lovable creature that wouldn't hurt a fly.’
      • ‘She had loads of friends and wouldn't hurt a fly.’
      • ‘Phyllis was really nice - she wouldn't hurt a fly.’
      • ‘While I'm a passive guy and wouldn't harm a fly, I did have the sudden urge to blow something up real good.’
      • ‘He was always kind to everyone and he literally wouldn't harm a fly.’
      • ‘He wouldn't harm a fly, but his depression seems to have twisted his mind.’
  • you (can) catch more flies with honey than (with) vinegar

    • proverb It is more effective to be polite and flattering than to be hostile or demanding.

      • ‘I accepted her criticisms, recognizing that I would probably catch more flies with honey than vinegar.’
      • ‘Someone should teach them that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.’
      • ‘I have no reason to believe that "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" doesn't apply to politics.’
      • ‘She sought to be less confrontational under the assumption that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.’
      • ‘The government's subdued reaction to the case is just another case where you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’
      • ‘So what's wrong with a book whose basic message is: you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?’
      • ‘Her thesis in this piece appears to be that female academics ought to be using their wiles to confront inequality because "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar".’
      • ‘Whoever said you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar had no clue.’
      • ‘You're making bald accusations against him, but you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you know.’

Origin

Old English flȳge, flēoge, denoting any winged insect, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vlieg and German Fliege, also to fly.

Pronunciation

fly

/flī//flaɪ/

Main definitions of fly in US English:

: fly1fly2fly3

fly3

adjectiveflyer, flyest

informal
  • 1North American Stylish and fashionable.

    ‘they were wearin' fly clothes’
    • ‘If your neighbor's got a fly crib or a pimped-out set of wheels, that's their business, not yours.’
    • ‘Anyone can be fly, race has no bearing on who is fly and who is not.’
    • ‘Babs wants to know if her romance with the fly guy she met last year is for keeps.’
    • ‘Ryan's a super fly dude.’
    • ‘I was looking for the fly stuff, and I don't mean fishing gear.’
  • 2British Knowing and clever; worldly-wise.

    ‘she's fly enough not to get done out of it’
    • ‘I'm too fly to admit anything to youse guys.’
    • ‘This sort of manoeuvre must have been what one shadow cabinet colleague had in mind when he privately described the politician as ‘an extremely fly operator’.’
    • ‘I would ask you to bear in mind that Broome is a very fly and slippery character.’
    • ‘Never in the history of nannies has there been a more fly nanny than Julie Andrews.’
    shrewd, sharp, astute, acute, canny, worldly-wise, knowing, clever, sharp-witted, quick-witted, nimble-witted, wily
    View synonyms

Origin

Early 19th century: of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

fly

/flī//flaɪ/