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

  • adjective Unreliable or unscrupulous, especially with regard to business dealings.
  • adjective Of an impermanent or insubstantial nature.
  • noun An unreliable or unscrupulous person.
  • noun One, such as a company, that is short-lived and therefore unreliable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A jib set like a studding-sail; a squaresail set on some sloops when running before the wind.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A creature which flies at night; a nocturnal flier or traveler.
  • noun One who departs or flees at night in order to avoid creditors, law enforcement etc. (often used attributively).
  • noun idiomatic, derogatory A person or business that appears and disappears rapidly, or gives an impression of transience.
  • noun idiomatic, derogatory A traveling businessman or tradesman.

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

  • noun a debtor who flees to avoid paying
  • adjective (of businesses and businessmen) unscrupulous
  • adjective ephemeral


Sorry, no etymologies found.



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  • Originally a nautical term describing a large sail that was used only for sailing downwind, thus requiring little attention.

    December 11, 2007