fly meaning, fly definition | English Cobuild dictionary

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  ( flies    plural & 3rd person present)   ( flying    present participle)   ( flew    past tense)   ( flown    past participle  )
1       n-count   A fly is a small insect with two wings. There are many kinds of flies, and the most common are black in colour.  
2       verb   When something such as a bird, insect, or aircraft flies, it moves through the air.  
The planes flew through the clouds...      V prep/adv  
The bird flew away.      V prep/adv, Also V  
3       verb   If you fly somewhere, you travel there in an aircraft.  
He flew back to London...      V prep/adv  
Mr Baker flew in from Moscow.      V prep/adv  
4       verb   When someone flies an aircraft, they control its movement in the air.  
Parker had successfully flown both aircraft...      V n  
He flew a small plane to Cuba...      V n prep/adv  
His inspiration to fly came even before he joined the Army.      V  
  flying      n-uncount  
...a flying instructor.     
5       verb   To fly someone or something somewhere means to take or send them there in an aircraft.  
The relief supplies are being flown from a warehouse in Pisa.      V n adv/prep  
6       verb   If something such as your hair is flying about, it is moving about freely and loosely in the air.  
His long, uncovered hair flew back in the wind...      V adv/prep  
She was running down the stairs, her hair flying.      V  
7       verb   If you fly a flag or if it is flying, you display it at the top of a pole.  
They flew the flag of the African National Congress...      V n  
A flag was flying on the new military HQ.      V  
8       verb   If you say that someone or something flies in a particular direction, you are emphasizing that they move there with a lot of speed or force.,   (emphasis)    I flew downstairs...      V prep/adv  
9       n-count   The front opening on a pair of trousers is referred to as the fly, or in British English the flies. It usually consists of a zip or row of buttons behind a band of cloth.  
    tsetse fly  
11    If you say that someone wouldn't hurt a fly or wouldn't harm a fly, you are emphasizing that they are very kind and gentle.  
wouldn't harm a fly      phrase   with brd-neg, V inflects     (emphasis)    ...a lovely girl, who would not have harmed a fly.     
12    If you let fly, you attack someone, either physically by hitting them, or with words by insulting them.  
let fly      phrase   V inflects  
A simmering row ended with her letting fly with a stream of obscenities.     
13    If you send someone or something flying or if they go flying, they move through the air and fall down with a lot of force.  
send someone/something flying      phrase   V inflects, PHR after v  
The blow sent the young man flying.     
14    If you say that you would like to be a fly on the wall in a situation that does not involve you, you mean that you would like to see or hear what happens in that situation.  
fly on the wall      phrase   v-link PHR  
What I'd give to be a fly on the wall when Davis finds out what's happened to his precious cargo.     
    as the crow flies  
    to fly in the face of  
    to fly the flag  
    to fly off the handle  
    a fly in the ointment  
    pigs might fly  
    sparks fly  
    time flies  
    time   fly at      phrasal verb   If you fly at someone, you attack them, either physically by hitting them, or with words by insulting them.   (=let fly at)  
She flew at him for making a very anti-British remark.      V P n   fly into      phrasal verb   If you fly into a bad temper or a panic, you suddenly become very angry or anxious and show this in your behaviour.  
Losing a game would cause him to fly into a rage.      V P n  

A fly-by-night businessman is someone who wants to make money very quickly, without caring about the quality or honesty of the service they offer.  
INFORMAL      adj   ADJ n     (disapproval)    (=cowboy) operators who fail to complete jobs.     
On a fly-drive holiday, you travel part of the way to your destination by aeroplane, and collect a hired car at the airport so that you can drive the rest of the way.      adj   ADJ n  
...a fly-drive break in New Zealand.     
fly-fishing      , fly fishing  
Fly-fishing is a method of fishing in which a silk or nylon model of a small winged insect is used as bait.      n-uncount  
A fly-on-the-wall documentary is made by filming people as they do the things they normally do, rather than by interviewing them or asking them to talk directly to the camera.      adj   ADJ n  
...a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the Queen's life.     
    a fly on the wall  
fruit fly        ( fruit flies    plural  ) Fruit flies are very small flies which eat fruit and rotting plants.      n-count  
no-fly zone        ( no-fly zones    plural  ) A no-fly zone is an area of sky where military and other aircraft are not allowed to fly, especially because of a war.      n-count  
tsetse fly     ( tsetse flies    plural  ) , tsetse   A tsetse fly or a tsetse is an African fly that feeds on blood and can cause serious diseases in the people and animals that it bites.      n-var  
Translation English Cobuild Collins Dictionary  



1    flit, flutter, hover, mount, sail, soar, take to the air, take wing, wing  
2    aviate, be at the controls, control, manoeuvre, operate, pilot  
3    display, flap, float, flutter, show, wave  
4    elapse, flit, glide, pass, pass swiftly, roll on, run its course, slip away  
5    barrel (along)     (informal, chiefly U.S. & Canad.)   be off like a shot     (informal)   bolt, burn rubber     (informal)   career, dart, dash, hare     (Brit. informal)   hasten, hurry, race, rush, scamper, scoot, shoot, speed, sprint, tear, whizz     (informal)   zoom  
6    abscond, avoid, beat a retreat, clear out     (informal)   cut and run     (informal)   decamp, disappear, do a runner     (slang)   escape, flee, fly the coop     (U.S. & Canad. informal)   get away, hasten away, hightail     (informal, chiefly U.S.)   light out     (informal)   make a getaway, make a quick exit, make one's escape, run, run for it, run from, show a clean pair of heels, shun, skedaddle     (informal)   take a powder     (U.S. & Canad. slang)   take flight, take it on the lam     (U.S. & Canad. slang)   take off, take to one's heels  
7    fly off the handle      blow one's top, explode, flip one's lid     (slang)   fly into a rage, go ballistic     (slang, chiefly U.S.)   have a tantrum, hit or go through the roof     (informal)   let fly     (informal)   lose one's cool     (slang)   lose one's temper, wig out     (slang)  
8    let fly:     
a    burst forth, give free reign, keep nothing back, lash out, let (someone) have it, lose one's temper, tear into     (informal)   vent  
b    cast, chuck     (informal)   fire, fling, heave, hurl, hurtle, launch, let off, lob     (informal)   shoot, sling, throw  
9    fly in the ointment      difficulty, drawback, flaw, hitch, problem, rub, small problem, snag  

English Collins Dictionary - English synonyms & Thesaurus  

fly          [2]  
      adj   astute, canny, careful, knowing, nobody's fool, not born yesterday, on the ball     (informal)   sharp, shrewd, smart, wide-awake  

English Collins Dictionary - English synonyms & Thesaurus  

a fly in the ointment exp.
a problem, a trouble, a hiccup
the fly in the ointment that summer was the terrible weather: l' ennui cet été là fut le mauvais temps.

Additional comments:

Murray A..:

Could use these synonyms as a definition, but to me the expression sug...

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Collaborative Dictionary     English Cobuild
make something succeed strongly and rapidly
the carrot is more effective than the stick
The actual say is: "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" This means that it is easier to persuade people if you use polite arguments and flattery than if you are confrontational.
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