from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To engage in flight, especially:
  • intransitive v. To move through the air by means of wings or winglike parts.
  • intransitive v. To travel by air: We flew to Dallas.
  • intransitive v. To operate an aircraft or spacecraft.
  • intransitive v. To rise in or be carried through the air by the wind: a kite flying above the playground.
  • intransitive v. To float or flap in the air: pennants flying from the masthead.
  • intransitive v. To move or be sent through the air with great speed: bullets flying in every direction; a plate that flew from my hands when I stumbled.
  • intransitive v. To move with great speed; rush or dart: The children flew down the hall. Rumors were flying during their absence.
  • intransitive v. To flee; escape.
  • intransitive v. To hasten; spring: flew to her students' defense.
  • intransitive v. To pass by swiftly: a vacation flying by; youth that is soon flown.
  • intransitive v. To be dissipated; vanish: Their small inheritance was quickly flown.
  • intransitive v. Baseball To hit a fly ball.
  • intransitive v. To undergo an explosive reaction; burst: The dropped plate flew into pieces. The motorist flew into a rage.
  • intransitive v. Informal To gain acceptance or approval; go over: "However sophisticated the reasoning, this particular notion may not fly” ( New York Times).
  • transitive v. To cause to fly or float in the air: fly a kite; fly a flag.
  • transitive v. Nautical To operate under (a particular flag): a tanker that flies the Liberian flag.
  • transitive v. To pilot (an aircraft or a spacecraft).
  • transitive v. To carry or transport in an aircraft or a spacecraft: fly emergency supplies to a stricken area.
  • transitive v. To pass over or through in flight: flew the coastal route in record time.
  • transitive v. To perform in a spacecraft or an aircraft: flew six missions into space.
  • transitive v. To flee or run from: fly a place in panic.
  • transitive v. To avoid; shun: fly temptation.
  • n. The act of flying; flight.
  • n. A fold of cloth that covers a fastening of a garment, especially one on the front of trousers.
  • n. The fastening or opening covered by such a fold.
  • n. A flap that covers an entrance or forms a rooflike extension for a tent or the canopy of a vehicle.
  • n. A flyleaf.
  • n. Baseball A fly ball.
  • n. The span of a flag from the staff to the outer edge.
  • n. The outer edge of a flag.
  • n. A flywheel.
  • n. The area directly over the stage of a theater, containing overhead lights, drop curtains, and equipment for raising and lowering sets.
  • n. Chiefly British A one-horse carriage, especially one for hire.
  • fly at To attack fiercely; assault: The dogs flew at each other's throats.
  • idiom fly high To be elated: They were flying high after their first child was born.
  • idiom fly off the handle Informal To become suddenly enraged: flew off the handle when the train was finally canceled.
  • idiom let fly To shoot, hurl, or release: The troops let fly a volley of gunfire.
  • idiom let fly To lash out; assault: The mayor let fly with an angry attack on her critics.
  • idiom on the fly On the run; in a hurry: took lunch on the fly.
  • idiom on the fly While in the air; in flight: caught the ball on the fly.
  • n. Any of numerous two-winged insects of the order Diptera, especially any of the family Muscidae, which includes the housefly.
  • n. Any of various other flying insects, such as the caddis fly.
  • n. A fishing lure simulating a fly, made by attaching materials such as feathers, tinsel, and colored thread to a fishhook.
  • idiom fly in the ointment A detrimental circumstance or detail; a drawback.
  • adj. Chiefly British Mentally alert; sharp.
  • adj. Slang Fashionable; stylish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Quick-witted, alert, mentally sharp, smart (in a mental sense).
  • adj. Well dressed, smart in appearance.
  • adj. Beautiful; displaying physical beauty.
  • n. Any insect of the order Diptera; characterized by having two wings, also called true flies.
  • n. Especially, any of the insects of the family Muscidae, such as the common housefly (other families of Diptera include mosquitoes and midges).
  • n. Any similar, but unrelated insect such as dragonfly or butterfly.
  • n. A lightweight fishing lure resembling an insect.
  • n. A chest exercise performed by moving extended arms from the sides to in front of the chest. (also flye)
  • v. To travel through the air, another gas, or a vacuum, without being in contact with a grounded surface.
  • v. (archaic) (poetic) To flee, to escape.
  • v. To cause to fly (travel by air or the like): to transport via air or the like.
  • v. (colloquial, of a proposal, project or idea) To be accepted, come about or work out.
  • v. To travel very fast.
  • n. The action of flying; flight.
  • n. An act of flying.
  • n. A fly ball.
  • n. A type of small, fast carriage.
  • n. A piece of canvas that covers the opening at the front of a tent.
  • n. A strip of material hiding the zipper, buttons etc. at the front of a pair of trousers, pants, or underpants.
  • n. The free edge of a flag.
  • n. The horizontal length of a flag.
  • n. butterfly a form of swimming
  • n. Exercises that evolve wide opening and closing of the arms perpendicular to the shoulders
  • v. To hit a fly ball; to hit a fly ball that is caught for an out. Compare ground (verb) and line (verb).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Knowing; wide awake; fully understanding another's meaning.
  • n.
  • n. Any winged insect; esp., one with transparent wings.
  • n. Any dipterous insect; See diptera, and Illust. in Append.
  • n. A hook dressed in imitation of a fly, -- used for fishing.
  • n. A familiar spirit; a witch's attendant.
  • n. A parasite.
  • n. A kind of light carriage for rapid transit, plying for hire and usually drawn by one horse.
  • n. The length of an extended flag from its staff; sometimes, the length from the “union” to the extreme end.
  • n. The part of a vane pointing the direction from which the wind blows.
  • n. That part of a compass on which the points are marked; the compass card.
  • n.
  • n. Two or more vanes set on a revolving axis, to act as a fanner, or to equalize or impede the motion of machinery by the resistance of the air, as in the striking part of a clock.
  • n. A heavy wheel, or cross arms with weights at the ends on a revolving axis, to regulate or equalize the motion of machinery by means of its inertia, where the power communicated, or the resistance to be overcome, is variable, as in the steam engine or the coining press. See Fly wheel (below).
  • n. The piece hinged to the needle, which holds the engaged loop in position while the needle is penetrating another loop; a latch.
  • n. The pair of arms revolving around the bobbin, in a spinning wheel or spinning frame, to twist the yarn.
  • n. A shuttle driven through the shed by a blow or jerk.
  • n.
  • n. Formerly, the person who took the printed sheets from the press.
  • n. A vibrating frame with fingers, attached to a power to a power printing press for doing the same work.
  • n. The outer canvas of a tent with double top, usually drawn over the ridgepole, but so extended as to touch the roof of the tent at no other place.
  • n. One of the upper screens of a stage in a theater.
  • n. The fore flap of a bootee; also, a lap on trousers, overcoats, etc., to conceal a row of buttons.
  • n. A batted ball that flies to a considerable distance, usually high in the air; also, the flight of a ball so struck. Also called fly ball.
  • n. Waste cotton.
  • intransitive v. To move in or pass through the air with wings, as a bird.
  • intransitive v. To move through the air or before the wind; esp., to pass or be driven rapidly through the air by any impulse.
  • intransitive v. To float, wave, or rise in the air, as sparks or a flag.
  • intransitive v. To move or pass swiftly; to hasten away; to circulate rapidly
  • intransitive v. To run from danger; to attempt to escape; to flee. See Note under Flee.
  • intransitive v. To move suddenly, or with violence; to do an act suddenly or swiftly; -- usually with a qualifying word
  • transitive v. To cause to fly or to float in the air, as a bird, a kite, a flag, etc.
  • transitive v. To fly or flee from; to shun; to avoid.
  • transitive v. To hunt with a hawk.
  • transitive v. To manage (an aircraft) in flight.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move through the air by the aid of wings, as birds.
  • To pass or move in air by the force of wind or any other impulse: as, clouds fly before the wind; a ball flies from a cannon, an arrow from a bow; the explosion made the gravel fly.
  • To rise, spring, shoot, or be cast in air, as smoke, sparks, or other light objects.
  • To move or pass with swiftness or alacrity; go rapidly or at full speed; rush; dart: as, to fly to the relief of a distressed friend; the ship flies before the wind; recriminations flew about.
  • To depart suddenly or swiftly; take flight; escape; flee: as, the rogue has flown; his fortune will soon fly.
  • To part suddenly or with violence; burst or be rent into fragments or shreds: as, the bottle flew into a thousand pieces; the sail flew in tatters.
  • To flutter; wave or play, as a flag in the wind.
  • To be evanescent; fade; disappear: said of colors: as, that color is sure to fly when the fabric is washed.
  • To hunt with a falcon; hawk.
  • To resist; set at defiance; oppose with violence; act in direct opposition to.
  • To revolt.
  • To evaporate or volatilize.
  • To break out in anger, uproar, or license.
  • To assail; abuse.
  • Nautical, to let go suddenly: as, let fly the sheets.
  • To cause to move through or float in the air: as, to fly carrier-pigeons; to fly a flag or a kite.
  • To attack by the flight of a falcon or hawk; fly at.
  • To flee from; shun; avoid as by flight; get away from: as, to fly the sight of one we hate.
  • To convey in a fly.
  • To travel by a fly.
  • Knowing; wide-awake; quick to take one's meaning or intention: as, a fly young man.
  • n. The act of flying, or passing through the air; flight.
  • n. A state of flying: in the phrase on the fly (which see, below).
  • n. Something having a rapid or flying motion, or some relation to such motion.
  • n. plural In a theater, the large space above the proscenium, extending over the whole of the stage, and including the borders, border-lights, many ropes, cleats, and pulleys, the beams to which these are attached, and the fly-galleries on either side from which the borders and drop-scenes are handled.
  • n. A piece of canvas drawn over the ridge-pole of a tent, doubling the thickness of the roof, but not in contact with it except at the ridge-pole.
  • n. The flap or door of a tent.
  • n. A strip of material sewed to a garment, but differing from a flounce in being drawn straight without gathering, and usually serving some purpose other than mere ornament.
  • n. In cotton-spinning, waste cotton.
  • n. The hinged board which covers the keys of a piano or an organ when not in use
  • n. In popular language, a flying insect of any common kind.
  • n. In entomology, a two-winged insect; any one of the order Diptera, and especially of the family Muscidæ: commonly used with a qualifying or specific term: as, the house-fly, Musca domestica. See the compounded words.
  • n. A fish-hook dressed with silk, tinsel, feathers, or other material, so as to resemble a fly or other insect, and used by anglers to entice fish.
  • n. A familiar spirit: apparently a cant term with those who pretended to deal in magic and similar impostures.
  • n. Figuratively, an insignificant thing; a thing of no value.
  • n. Pl. flys (flīz). A kind of quick-running carriage; a light vehicle for passengers; a hackney-coach.
  • n. An ephemerid; a shad-fly, May-fly, or day-fly. (See also cabbage-fly, forest-fly, hand-fly, radish-fly, robber-fly, saw-fly, stretcher-fly, etc.)
  • n. See vly.
  • n.
  • n. Nautical, an old-fashioned name for the compass-card.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an opening in a garment that is closed by a zipper or by buttons concealed under a fold of cloth
  • v. move quickly or suddenly
  • n. (baseball) a hit that flies up in the air
  • v. cause to fly or float
  • v. travel over (an area of land or sea) in an aircraft
  • v. operate an airplane
  • v. be dispersed or disseminated
  • v. pass away rapidly
  • n. fisherman's lure consisting of a fishhook decorated to look like an insect
  • v. travel in an airplane
  • v. hit a fly
  • v. transport by aeroplane
  • adj. (British informal) not to be deceived or hoodwinked
  • v. display in the air or cause to float
  • v. run away quickly
  • n. two-winged insects characterized by active flight
  • v. change quickly from one emotional state to another
  • v. travel through the air; be airborne
  • v. decrease rapidly and disappear
  • n. flap consisting of a piece of canvas that can be drawn back to provide entrance to a tent


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English flien, from Old English flēogan; see pleu- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English flie, from Old English flēoge; see pleu- in Indo-European roots.
Probably from fly1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English flien, from Old English flēogan, from Proto-Germanic *fleuganan (compare Saterland Frisian fljooge, Dutch vliegen, Low German flegen, German fliegen, Danish flyve), from Proto-Indo-European *pleuk-, *pleu-k- (cf. Lithuanian plaũkti ‘to swim’), enlargement of *pleu- ‘flow’. More at flow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain; probably from the verb or noun.


  • You take the strand of gut on which the next fly you purpose affixing is dressed, and laying it along the main line, _taking care to have the hook lying in the reverse direction from the tail fly_, you tie it into the line a yard from the fly already attached.

    Scotch Loch-Fishing

  • And I was so happy, so wonderfully happy, that a great big something rose within me, and I felt so -- so queer, as if I could fly, and fly, and _fly_!

    The Sunbridge Girls at Six Star Ranch

  • I show up and I hate to use the term fly by the seat of my pants.

    Modern Guitars Magazine

  • And just when you're thinking that you really understand the term fly-over country, you drive into something like Bartlesville and wonder what else you've been speeding past.


  • Controlling the fly is always of utmost importance.

    What type of tippet should I use for steel head when I fly fish

  • Don't worry about where the fly is at ... it will come along with the line.

    I am new to fly fishing and i am practicing my cast.

  • With a Mercury bead at the hook eye and a single strand of Flashabou across the back of the hook shank, the fly is a very close match to the natural.

    Fly of the Month: Flashback Mercury Black Beauty

  • And then there are plenty who would contend that the number one gamefish to be caught on a fly is the tarpon.

    The Silver King Rules

  • Also it hasn't brought us any closer to figuring out why a fly is a fly and a mouse is a mouse.

    Basking in the Irony

  • During most drifts, you approximate where the fly is and strike gently whenever you see a rise in the general vicinity.

    The Mighty Midge


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  • "Little fly

    thy summer's play...."

    July 25, 2010

  • The Lord in His wisdom made the fly

    And then forgot to tell us why.

    - Ogden Nash, 'The Fly'.

    December 5, 2008

  • A horse-drawn public coach or delivery wagon, especially one let out for hire. Also a light, covered vehicle, such as a single-horse carriage used for non-business purposes.

    October 22, 2008

  • "The most vociferous of the invaders of the Doral were probably no more than self-seekers and stoned demagogues, but there were more perilous infiltrations into the ranks of the non-delegates. The Yippies smelled a grand jury and more conspiracy trials in the offing and clammed up, but the vets, the most persuasive antiwar group in the country, were not so fly."

    - 'The Big Tease', Germaine Greer in Harper's Monthly Magazine, Oct 1972.

    April 13, 2008

  • In an odd way, that sounds lovely.

    January 27, 2008

  • In medical intensive care units, to fly means to be able to withstand removal of a breathng tube more or less permanently. I.e., "Ms Bucket just t-pieced for three hours and her lungs sound clear, should we extubate?" "Yeah, I think she'll fly."

    January 26, 2008