fly1 / flī/ • v. (flies / flīz/ ; past flew / floō/ ; past part. flown / flōn/ ) [intr.] 1. (of a bird or other winged creature) move through the air under control: close the door or the moths will fly in the bird can fly enormous distances. ∎ (of an aircraft or its occupants) travel through the air: I fly back to New York this evening. ∎ [tr.] control the flight of (an aircraft); pilot. ∎ [tr.] transport in an aircraft: helicopters flew the injured to a hospital. ∎ [tr.] accomplish (a purpose) in an aircraft: pilots trained to fly combat missions. ∎ [tr.] release (a bird) to fly, esp. a hawk for hunting or a pigeon for racing.2. move or be hurled quickly through the air: balls kept flying over her hedge he was sent flying by the tackle. ∎ (past flied) Baseball hit a ball high into the air: Gwynn flied to left. ∎ (past flied) (fly out) Baseball (of a batter) be put out by hitting a fly ball that is caught. ∎ go or move quickly: she flew along the path. ∎ inf. depart hastily: I must fly! ∎ (of time) pass swiftly: how time flies! ∎ (of a report) be circulated among many people: rumors were flying around Chicago. ∎ (of accusations or insults) be exchanged swiftly and heatedly: the accusations flew thick and fast.3. (esp. of hair) wave or flutter in the wind: they were running, hair flying everywhere. ∎ (of a flag) be displayed, esp. on a flagpole: flags were flying at half-mast. ∎ [tr.] display (a flag).4. archaic flee; run away: those that fly may fight again. ∎ [tr.] flee from; escape from in haste: you must fly the country for a while.• n. (pl. flies) 1. an opening at the crotch of a pair of pants, closed with a zipper or buttons and typically covered with a flap. ∎ a flap of material covering the opening or fastening of a garment or of a tent: [as adj. in comb.] a fly-fronted shirt. 2. (the flies) the space over the stage in a theater.3. Baseball short for fly ball.4. (pl. usu. flys) Brit. & hist. a one-horse hackney carriage. PHRASES: fly the coop inf. make one's escape.fly the flagsee flag1 .fly high be very successful; prosper: that young man is the sort to fly high.fly in the face of be openly at variance with (what is usual or expected): a need to fly in the face of convention.fly into a rage (or temper) become suddenly or violently angry.fly the nest (of a young bird) leave its nest on becoming able to fly. ∎ inf. (of a young person) leave their parents' home to set up home elsewhere.fly off the handle inf. lose one's temper suddenly and unexpectedly.go fly a kite [in imper.] inf. go away.on the fly while in motion or progress: his deep shot was caught on the fly. ∎ Comput. during the running of a computer program without interrupting the run.PHRASAL VERBS: fly at attack (someone) verbally or physically: Robbie flew at him, fists clenched. ∎ (of a hawk) pursue and attack, or habitually pursue (prey). ∎ (fly a hawk at) send a hawk to pursue and attack (prey).DERIVATIVES: fly·a·ble adj.fly2 • n. (pl. flies / flīz/ ) a flying insect (order Diptera) of a large order characterized by a single pair of transparent wings and sucking (and often also piercing) mouthparts. Flies are noted as vectors of disease. ∎ [usu. in comb.] used in names of flying insects of other orders, e.g., butterfly, dragonfly, firefly. ∎ an infestation of flying insects on a plant or animal: cattle treated for warble fly. ∎ a natural or artificial flying insect used as bait in fishing, esp. a mayfly.PHRASES: die (or drop) like flies die or collapse in large numbers. a fly in the ointment a minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something.fly on the wall an unnoticed observer of a particular situation.fly3 • adj. (fly·er , fly·est) inf. 1. stylish and fashionable: they were wearin' fly clothes. 2. Brit. knowing and clever; worldly-wise: she's fly enough not to get done out of it.DERIVATIVES: fly·ness n.
FLY (Heb. זְבוּב), which occurs in an analogous form in other Semitic languages, refers mainly to the housefly (Musca domestica) A dead fly turns foul anything it falls into (Eccles. 10:1). Among the visitations against which public prayer was offered up was a plague of flies (Ta'an. 14a). The Palestinian amora, Johanan, warned against flies as carriers of disease (Ket. 77b). One measure of a man's fastidiousness is how he reacts when a fly falls into his drink (Tosef., Sot. 5:9). One of the miracles that occurred in the Temple was that "no fly was seen in the slaughter house" (Avot 5:5). Rav reported from observation that "no fly is a year old"; in other words, that it does not live more than six months (cf. Deut, R. 5:2). Despite the repulsiveness of the fly, its existence was considered important in the balance of nature (tj, Ber. 9:3, 13c). The people of Ekron worshipped an idol called Baal Zebub ("lord of the fly," see *Baal), perhaps regarded as a protector against the plague of flies (ii Kings 1:2). Besides the housefly, there are to be found in Israel stinging, blood-sucking flies, as well as carrion and fruit flies. Carrion flies (Lucillia) lay their eggs in carcasses. From the eggs hatch maggots (referred to in biblical passages as rimmah ve-tole'ah), which cause the decomposition of the corpse (Isa. 14:11; et al.). The maggots of fruit flies (Drosophila) feed on fruit and sweet food (cf. Ex. 16:24); the olive fly (Dacus olea) causes the fruit to fall from the olive (Deut. 28:40).
Tristram, Nat Hist, 327f.; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 123f. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 224.
fly in amber a curious relic of the past, preserved into the present; alluding to the fossilised bodies of insects often found trapped in amber. The image was given a different slant by Michael Crichton's thriller Jurassic Park (1990) and the Spielberg film based on it, in which the DNA essential to the recreation of dinosaurs was retrieved from the animal's blood supposedly fossilized with the insect that had fed from it.
fly in the ointment a minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something; originally with biblical allusion to Ecclesiastes 10:1, ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.’
fly on the wall an unnoticed observer of a particular situation. Very often as a modifier, as in fly-on-the-wall documentary, which refers to a film-making technique whereby events are merely observed and presented realistically with minimum interference rather than acted out under direction.
fly on the wheel a person who overestimates their own influence. With reference to Aesop's fable of a fly sitting on the axletree of a moving chariot and saying, ‘See what a dust I raise.’
fly in the face of be openly at variance with.
fly off the handle lose one's temper suddenly and unexpectedly (figuratively, with reference to the loose head of an axe).
fly the nest leave one's parents' home to set up home elsewhere (literally, of a young bird, leave its nest on becoming able to fly).
See also fly the flag, pigs might fly.