fly Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun two-winged insects characterized by active flight
  2. noun flap consisting of a piece of canvas that can be drawn back to provide entrance to a tent
    rainfly; tent flap; fly sheet; tent-fly.
  3. noun an opening in a garment that is closed by a zipper or by buttons concealed under a fold of cloth
    fly front.
  4. noun (baseball) a hit that flies up in the air
    fly ball.
  5. noun fisherman's lure consisting of a fishhook decorated to look like an insect
  6. verb travel through the air; be airborne
    • Man cannot fly
  7. verb move quickly or suddenly
    • He flew about the place
  8. verb operate an airplane
    aviate; pilot.
    • The pilot flew to Cuba
  9. verb transport by aeroplane
    • We fly flowers from the Caribbean to North America
  10. verb cause to fly or float
    • fly a kite
  11. verb be dispersed or disseminated
    • Rumors and accusations are flying
  12. verb change quickly from one emotional state to another
    • fly into a rage
  13. verb pass away rapidly
    fell; vanish.
    • Time flies like an arrow
    • Time fleeing beneath him
  14. verb travel in an airplane
    • she is flying to Cincinnati tonight
    • Are we driving or flying?
  15. verb display in the air or cause to float
    • fly a kite
    • All nations fly their flags in front of the U.N.
  16. verb run away quickly
    flee; take flight.
    • He threw down his gun and fled
  17. verb travel over (an area of land or sea) in an aircraft
    • Lindbergh was the first to fly the Atlantic
  18. verb hit a fly
  19. verb decrease rapidly and disappear
    vanish; vaporize.
    • the money vanished in las Vegas
    • all my stock assets have vaporized
  20. adjective satellite (British informal) not to be deceived or hoodwinked


Fly intransitive verb
OE. fleen, fleen, fleyen, flegen, AS. fleógan; akin to D. vliegen, ONG. fliogan, G. fliegen, Icel. fljga, Sw. flyga, Dan. flyve, Goth. us-flaugjan to cause to fly away, blow about, and perh. to L. pluma feather, E. plume. 84. Cf. Fledge, Flight, Flock of animals.
imperfect Flew ; past participle Flown ; present participle & verbal noun Flying
  1. To move in or pass thorugh the air with wings, as a bird.
  2. To move through the air or before the wind; esp., to pass or be driven rapidly through the air by any impulse.
  3. To float, wave, or rise in the air, as sparks or a flag.
    Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. Job v. 7.
  4. To move or pass swiftly; to hasten away; to circulate rapidly; as, a ship flies on the deep; a top flies around; rumor flies.
    Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race. Milton.
    The dark waves murmured as the ships flew on. Bryant.
  5. To run from danger; to attempt to escape; to flee; as, an enemy or a coward flies. See Note under Flee.
    Fly, ere evil intercept thy flight. Milton.
    Whither shall I fly to escape their hands ? Shak.
  6. To move suddenly, or with violence; to do an act suddenly or swiftly; -- usually with a qualifying word; as, a door flies open; a bomb flies apart.
Fly transitive verb
  1. To cause to fly or to float in the air, as a bird, a kite, a flag, etc.
    The brave black flag I fly. W. S. Gilbert.
  2. To fly or flee from; to shun; to avoid.
    Sleep flies the wretch. Dryden.
    To fly the favors of so good a king. Shak.
  3. To hunt with a hawk. Obs. Bacon.
Fly noun
OE. flie, flege, AS. fl?ge, fleóge, fr. fleógan to fly; akin to D. vlieg, OHG. flioga, G. fliege, Icel. & Sw. fluga, Dan. flue. 84. See Fly, v. i.
plural Flies
  1. (Zoöl.) (a) Any winged insect; esp., one with transparent wings; as, the Spanish fly; firefly; gall fly; dragon fly. (b) Any dipterous insect; as, the house fly; flesh fly; black fly. See Diptera, and Illust. in Append.
  2. A hook dressed in imitation of a fly, -- used for fishing. "The fur-wrought fly." Gay. fly fishing, fly fisherman.
  3. A familiar spirit; a witch's attendant. Obs.
    A trifling fly, none of your great familiars. B. Jonson.
  4. A parasite. Obs. Massinger.
  5. A kind of light carriage for rapid transit, plying for hire and usually drawn by one horse. Eng.
  6. The length of an extended flag from its staff; sometimes, the length from the "union" to the extreme end.
  7. The part of a vane pointing the direction from which the wind blows.
  8. (Naut.) That part of a compass on which the points are marked; the compass card. Totten.
  9. (Mech.) (a) 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. (b) 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).
  10. (Knitting Machine) The piece hinged to the needle, which holds the engaged loop in position while the needle is penetrating another loop; a latch. Knight.
  11. The pair of arms revolving around the bobbin, in a spinning wheel or spinning frame, to twist the yarn.
  12. (Weaving) A shuttle driven through the shed by a blow or jerk. Knight.
  13. (a) Formerly, the person who took the printed sheets from the press. (b) A vibrating frame with fingers, attached to a power to a power printing press for doing the same work.
  14. 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.
  15. One of the upper screens of a stage in a theater.
  16. The fore flap of a bootee; also, a lap on trousers, overcoats, etc., to conceal a row of buttons.
  17. (Baseball) A batted ball that flies to a considerable distance, usually high in the air; also, the flight of a ball so struck; as, it was caught on the fly.
Fly adjective
  1. Knowing; wide awake; fully understanding another's meaning. Slang Dickens.

Webster 1913