Driven ahead, hurried, as in The bikers are moving before the wind, so it's hard to tell who will come in first. The literal meaning of this term is nautical, referring to a ship sailing in the same direction as the wind and being propelled forward. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1800s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.