[ flahy ]
See synonyms for: flyflewfliesflown on

noun,plural flies.
  1. Also called true fly . any of numerous two-winged insects of the order Diptera, especially of the family Muscidae, as the common housefly.

  2. any of various winged insects, as the mayfly or firefly.

  1. Angling. a fishhook dressed with hair, feathers, silk, tinsel, etc., so as to resemble an insect or small fish, for use as a lure or bait.

  2. Fly, Astronomy. the constellation Musca.

Idioms about fly

  1. fly in the ointment, a detrimental factor; detraction: If there's one fly in the ointment, it's that there may not be the money to finish the job.

Origin of fly

First recorded before 950; Middle English flīe, Old English flēoge, flȳge; cognate with Middle Dutch vliege (Dutch vlieg ), Old High German flioga (German Fliege ); akin to fly2

Other words from fly

  • flyless, adjective

Words Nearby fly

Other definitions for fly (2 of 3)

[ flahy ]

verb (used without object),flew [floo] /flu/ or, for 11, flied [flahyd], /flaɪd/, flown [flohn], /floʊn/, fly·ing.
  1. to move through the air using wings.

  2. to be carried through the air by the wind or any other force or agency: bits of paper flying about.

  1. to float or flutter in the air: flags flying in the breeze.

  2. to travel in an aircraft or spacecraft.

  3. to move suddenly and quickly; start unexpectedly: He flew from the room.

  4. to change rapidly and unexpectedly from one state or position to another: The door flew open.

  5. to flee; escape.

  6. to travel in space: The probe will fly past the planet.

  7. to move or pass swiftly: How time flies!

  8. to move with an aggressive surge: A mother fox will fly at anyone approaching her kits.

  9. Baseball.

    • to bat a fly ball: He flied into right field.

    • to fly out.

  10. Informal. to be acceptable, believable, or feasible: It seemed like a good idea, but it just wouldn't fly.

verb (used with object),flew [floo] /flu/ or, for 19, flied [flahyd], /flaɪd/, flown [flohn], /floʊn/, fly·ing.
  1. to make (something) float or move through the air: to fly a kite.

  2. to operate (an aircraft, spacecraft, or the like).

  1. to hoist aloft, as for display, signaling, etc.: to fly a flag.

  2. to operate an aircraft or spacecraft over: to fly the Pacific.

  3. to transport or convey by air: We fly merchandise to Boston.

  4. to escape from; flee: to fly someone's wrath.

  5. Theater.

    • to hang (scenery) above a stage by means of rigging supported by the gridiron.

    • to raise (scenery) from the stage or acting area into the flies.

noun,plural flies.
  1. a strip of material sewn along one edge of a garment opening for concealing buttons, zippers, or other fasteners.

  2. a flap forming the door of a tent.

  1. Also called tent fly. a piece of canvas extending over the ridgepole of a tent and forming an outer roof.

  2. an act of flying; a flight.

  3. the course of a flying object, as a ball.

  4. Baseball. fly ball.

  5. British. a light, covered, public carriage drawn by one horse; hansom; hackney coach.

  6. Machinery. a horizontal arm, weighted at each end, that pivots about the screw of a press so that when the screw is lowered the momentum of the fly will increase the force of the press.

  7. Also called fan. Horology. a regulating device for chime and striking mechanisms, consisting of an arrangement of vanes on a revolving axis.

  8. Printing.

    • (in some presses) the apparatus for removing the printed sheets to the delivery table.

    • Also called flyboy. (formerly) a printer's devil employed to remove printed sheets from a press.

  9. (on a flag)

    • the horizontal dimension of a flag as flown from a vertical staff.

    • the end of the flag farther from the staff.: Compare hoist (def. 7).

  10. flies. Also called fly loft .Theater. the space above the stage used chiefly for storing scenery and equipment.

  11. Nautical. a propellerlike device streamed to rotate and transfer information on speed to a mechanical log.

Verb Phrases
  1. fly out, Baseball, Softball. to be put out by hitting a fly ball that is caught by a player of the opposing team.

Origin of fly

First recorded before 900; Middle English flīen, Old English flēogan; cognate with Old High German fliogan, German fliegen, Old Norse fljuga

synonym study For fly

1. Fly, flit, flutter, hover, soar refer to moving through the air as on wings. Fly is the general term: Birds fly. Airplanes fly. To flit is to make short rapid flights from place to place: A bird flits from tree to tree. To flutter is to agitate the wings tremulously, either without flying or in flying only short distances: A young bird flutters out of a nest and in again. To hover is to linger in the air, or to move over or about something within a narrow area or space: hovering clouds; a hummingbird hovering over a blossom. To soar is to (start to) fly upward to a great height usually with little advance in any other direction, or else to (continue to) fly at a lofty height without visible movement of the wings: Above our heads an eagle was soaring.

Other words from fly

  • fly·a·ble, adjective
  • fly·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • non·fly·a·ble, adjective
  • re·fly·a·ble, adjective
  • un·fly·a·ble, adjective

Other definitions for fly (3 of 3)

[ flahy ]

adjective,fly·er, fly·est.
  1. Slang. stylish, attractive, sophisticated, etc.: She put on silver stilettos, her flyest outfit, and plenty of bling, ready to party till dawn.

  2. British Slang. aware and worldly; clever; smart: Adults generally found him sly and conniving, but his teenage followers were convinced he was fly.

  1. British Slang. dexterous; agile; nimble.

Origin of fly

First recorded in 1805–15; perhaps special use of fly2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fly in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fly (1 of 3)


/ (flaɪ) /

verbflies, flying, flew or flown
  1. (intr) (of birds, aircraft, etc) to move through the air in a controlled manner using aerodynamic forces

  2. to travel over (an area of land or sea) in an aircraft

  1. to operate (an aircraft or spacecraft)

  2. to float, flutter, or be displayed in the air or cause to float, etc, in this way: to fly a kite; they flew the flag

  3. to transport or be transported by or through the air by aircraft, wind, etc

  4. (intr) to move or be moved very quickly, forcibly, or suddenly: she came flying towards me; the door flew open

  5. (intr) to pass swiftly: time flies

  6. to escape from (an enemy, place, etc); flee: he flew the country

  7. (intr; may be foll by at or upon) to attack a person

  8. (intr) to have a sudden outburst: he flew into a rage again

  9. (intr) (of money, etc) to vanish rapidly

  10. (tr) falconry (of hawks) to fly at (quarry) in attack: peregrines fly rooks

  11. (tr) theatre to suspend (scenery) above the stage so that it may be lowered into view

  12. fly a kite

    • to procure money by an accommodation bill

    • to release information or take a step in order to test public opinion

  13. fly high informal

    • to have a high aim

    • to prosper or flourish

  14. fly in the face of See face (def. 19)

  15. fly off the handle informal to lose one's temper

  16. fly the coop US and Canadian informal to leave suddenly

  17. go fly a kite US and Canadian informal go away

  18. let fly informal

    • to lose one's temper (with a person): she really let fly at him

    • to shoot or throw (an object)

nounplural flies
  1. Also called: fly front (often plural) a closure that conceals a zip, buttons, or other fastening, by having one side overlapping, as on trousers

  2. Also called: fly sheet

    • a flap forming the entrance to a tent

    • a piece of canvas drawn over the ridgepole of a tent to form an outer roof

  1. a small air brake used to control the chiming of large clocks

  2. the horizontal weighted arm of a fly press

    • the outer edge of a flag

    • the distance from the outer edge of a flag to the staff: Compare hoist (def. 9)

  3. British a light one-horse covered carriage formerly let out on hire

  4. Australian and NZ an attempt: I'll give it a fly

  5. printing

    • a device for transferring printed sheets from the press to a flat pile

    • Also called: flyhand a person who collects and stacks printed matter from a printing press

    • a piece of paper folded once to make four pages, with printing only on the first page

  6. (plural) theatre the space above the stage out of view of the audience, used for storing scenery, etc

  7. rare the act of flying

Origin of fly

Old English flēogan; related to Old Frisian fliāga, Old High German fliogan, Old Norse fljūga

Derived forms of fly

  • flyable, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for fly (2 of 3)


/ (flaɪ) /

nounplural flies
  1. any dipterous insect, esp the housefly, characterized by active flight: See also horsefly, blowfly, tsetse fly, crane fly

  2. any of various similar but unrelated insects, such as the caddis fly, firefly, dragonfly, and chalcid fly

  1. angling a lure made from a fish-hook dressed with feathers, tinsel, etc, to resemble any of various flies or nymphs: used in fly-fishing: See also dry fly, wet fly

  2. (in southern Africa) an area that is infested with the tsetse fly

  3. drink with the flies Australian slang to drink alone

  4. fly in amber See amber (def. 2)

  5. fly in the ointment informal a slight flaw that detracts from value, completeness, or enjoyment

  6. fly on the wall a person who watches others, while not being noticed himself or herself

  7. there are no flies on him informal he is no fool

Origin of fly

Old English flēoge; related to Old Norse fluga Old High German flioga; see fly 1

Derived forms of fly

  • flyless, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for fly (3 of 3)


/ (flaɪ) /

adjectiveflyer or flyest slang
  1. mainly British knowing and sharp; smart

  2. mainly Scot furtive or sneaky

  1. on the fly mainly Scot in secret; sneakily

Origin of fly

C19: of uncertain origin

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for fly


[ flī ]

  1. Any of numerous insects of the order Diptera, having one pair of wings and large compound eyes. Flies include the houseflies, horseflies, and mosquitoes. See more at dipteran.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.