Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of numerous two-winged insects of the order Diptera, especially any of the family Muscidae, which includes the housefly.
  • noun Any of various other flying insects, such as a caddisfly.
  • noun 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.
  • intransitive verb To engage in flight, especially.
  • intransitive verb To move through the air by means of wings or winglike parts.
  • intransitive verb To travel by air.
  • intransitive verb To operate an aircraft or spacecraft.
  • intransitive verb To rise in or be carried through the air by the wind.
  • intransitive verb To float or flap in the air.
  • intransitive verb To move or be sent through the air with great speed.
  • intransitive verb To move with great speed; rush or dart.
  • intransitive verb To be communicated to many people.
  • intransitive verb To flee; escape.
  • intransitive verb To hasten; spring.
  • intransitive verb To pass by swiftly.
  • intransitive verb To be dissipated; vanish.
  • intransitive verb Baseball To hit a fly ball.
  • intransitive verb To shatter or explode.
  • intransitive verb To become suddenly emotional, especially angry.
  • intransitive verb Informal To gain acceptance or approval; go over.
  • intransitive verb To cause to fly or float in the air.
  • intransitive verb Nautical To operate under (a particular flag).
  • intransitive verb To pilot (an aircraft or spacecraft).
  • intransitive verb To carry or transport in an aircraft or spacecraft.
  • intransitive verb To pass over or through in flight.
  • intransitive verb To perform in a spacecraft or aircraft.
  • intransitive verb To flee or run from.
  • intransitive verb To avoid; shun.
  • noun The act of flying; flight.
  • noun The opening, or the fastening that closes this opening, on the front of a pair of pants.
  • noun The flap of cloth that covers this opening.
  • noun A piece of protective fabric secured over a tent and often extended over the entrance.
  • noun A flyleaf.
  • noun Baseball A fly ball.
  • noun Sports In swimming, butterfly.
  • noun The span of a flag from the staff to the outer edge.
  • noun The outer edge of a flag.
  • noun A flywheel.
  • noun The area directly over the stage of a theater, containing overhead lights, drop curtains, and equipment for raising and lowering sets.
  • noun Chiefly British A one-horse carriage, especially one for hire.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English flie, from Old English flēoge; see pleu- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Middle English flien, from Old English flēogan; see pleu- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Probably from fly.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain; probably from the verb or noun.

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.

Examples

Comments

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  • 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

  • In an odd way, that sounds lovely.

    January 27, 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

  • 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 Lord in His wisdom made the fly

    And then forgot to tell us why.

    - Ogden Nash, 'The Fly'.

    December 5, 2008

  • "Little fly

    thy summer's play...."

    July 25, 2010