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plain sailing

Smooth, uninterrupted, and/or easy progress, movement, or development. Now that we've gotten that problem figured out, the project should be plain sailing from here on! We've got about a 13-hour road trip ahead of us, but it looks like plain sailing for most of it.
See also: plain, sailing

sail against the wind

To work to achieve something amid challenging circumstances, such as staunch opposition. This nautical phrase refers to the difficulty of sailing in the opposite direction as the wind. I know that I am sailing against the wind to try get this unpopular law passed, but I am confident that it will ultimately make our town a safer place.
See also: sail, wind

sail before the wind

To achieve something easily. This nautical phrase refers to the ease of sailing in the same direction as the wind. I don't understand people who just sail before the wind and get great grades without ever opening a book, when I study really hard and am just an average student. I hardly studied, and I still got A's on all of my exams—I really sailed before the wind this semester!
See also: before, sail, wind

clear sailing

Describing a situation that is free of obstacles or challenges, especially after obstacles or challenges have been overcome. We should be there soon—now that we're past the traffic jam, it should be clear sailing from here on out.
See also: clear, sailing

be plain sailing

To be smooth, uninterrupted, and/or easy, especially as of progress, travel, or development. Now that we've gotten that problem figured out, the project should be plain sailing from here on! We've got about 13 hours of driving ahead of us, but it looks like most of it is plain sailing.
See also: plain, sailing

sail close to the wind

To do something risky or dangerous. If you keep sailing close to the wind, the police are going to arrest you eventually.
See also: close, sail, wind

be sailing under false colors

To be operating under the guise of false pretenses, so as to deceive someone or to hide one's true nature or intentions. (An allusion to the identifying flags of a ship.) Tim thought he could just put on fancy clothes and rub elbows with the upper crust that Janet's family socialized with, but everyone at the party knew he was sailing under false colors. Lest you think I'm sailing under false colors, let me say straight away that I'm being paid to give a review of this product today.
See also: color, false, sailing

*clear sailing

 and *smooth sailing
Fig. a situation where progress is made without any difficulty. (*Typically: be ~; have ~.) Once you've passed that exam, it will be clear sailing to graduation. Working there was not all smooth sailing. The boss had a very bad temper.
See also: clear, sailing

false colors

Pretense, misrepresentation, or hypocrisy; deceptive statements or actions. For example, She's sailing under false colors-she claims to be a Republican, but endorses Democratic legislation . This term alludes to the practice of pirate ships sailing under false colors-that is, running a particular flag specifically to lure another vessel close enough to be captured. [Late 1600s]
See also: color, false

plain sailing

Easy going; straightforward, unobstructed progress. For example, The first few months were difficult, but I think it's plain sailing from here on. Alluding to navigating waters free of hazards, such as rocks or other obstructions, this term was transferred to other activities in the early 1800s.
See also: plain, sailing

sail close to the wind

Be on the verge of doing something illegal or improper, as in She was sailing pretty close to the wind when she called him a liar. This term alludes to the danger incurred when literally sailing too close to (that is, in the direction of) the wind. Its figurative use dates from the first half of the 1800s.
See also: close, sail, wind

smooth sailing

Easy progress, as in We had a hard time setting up the new computer system but it'll be smooth sailing from here on . The smooth in this idiom alludes to calm waters, free from big waves or roughness, a usage dating from the late 1300s. The transfer to other kinds of easy progress dates from the second half of the 1900s. Also see plain sailing.
See also: sailing, smooth

be sailing under false colours

If someone or something is sailing under false colours, they are deliberately deceiving people. Note: A ship's colours are its national flag. This report sails under false colours. It claims to be a fair and rigorous examination of the issue, but it is no such thing. Note: When pirate ships spotted a treasure ship, they often took down their own flag and raised the flag of a friendly nation, in order to get close enough to the ship to attack it.
See also: colour, false, sailing

plain sailing


smooth sailing

COMMON If an activity or task is plain sailing, it is easy to do or achieve. Once I got used to the diet it was plain sailing and I lost six kilos over a four month period. All of a sudden, my life started to improve, which is not to say that it was all smooth sailing from then on. Note: In American English, you can also use the expressions clear sailing and easy sailing. It's not going to be clear sailing. He's bound to come up with some tough opposition. Once I'd done the paperwork, the rest was easy sailing. Note: `Plain sailing' is sailing in good conditions, without any difficulties. However, the expression may have come from `plane sailing', a method of working out the position of a ship and planning its route using calculations based on the earth being flat rather than round. This is a simple and easy method which is fairly accurate over short distances, especially near the equator.
See also: plain, sailing

sail close to the wind

mainly BRITISH
If someone or something sails close to the wind, they take a risk by doing or saying something which almost breaks rules or laws. Max warned her she was sailing dangerously close to the wind and risked prosecution. I have never known a comedy series to sail so close to the wind. Note: If someone sails a boat too close to the wind, they try to sail in the direction from which the wind is blowing, and stop or capsize as a result.
See also: close, sail, wind

plain sailing

used to characterize a process or activity that goes well and is easy and uncomplicated.
See also: plain, sailing

sail close to (or near) the wind

verge on indecency, dishonesty, or disaster. informal
This originated as a nautical expression, meaning ‘sail as nearly against the wind as is possible’. It has been in figurative use since the mid 19th century.
1996 Martin Dove How To Win Any Consumer Competition I like the extra thrill of writing to a tight deadline but sometimes I do sail a bit close to the wind with closing dates.
See also: close, sail, wind

be (all) plain ˈsailing

(American English also be clear ˈsailing) be simple and free from trouble: Life with him isn’t all plain sailing, you know.She answered the first question well and from then on it was all plain sailing.
See also: plain, sailing

sail close to the ˈwind

behave in a way that is almost illegal or socially unacceptable: She’s been late for work three times this week, which is sailing close to the wind, I think.
See also: close, sail, wind

clear sailing

mod. easy; easy going. It’ll be clear sailing from now on.
See also: clear, sailing
References in periodicals archive ?
Thomson Cruises also has all inclusive bolt ons for PS69 per person per week on Thomson Majesty sailings between May and October, on Thomson Celebration sailings between January and April and Thomson Majesty and Thomson Spirit sailings between March and April.
The small 688-passenger vessel, formerly sailing for Renaissance Cruises, will reposition to Alaska after cruising in French Polynesia and, for sister company P&O Cruises Australia, in the South Pacific.
Applicable sailings will be clearly flagged throughout the cruise shopping path, and customers will be able to make their bookings online or by calling one of Travelocity's seasoned cruise experts.
Per person, double occupancy, fares begin at $689 for seven-day March sailings and $1,179 for 10-day March sailings; April cruises begin at $659 for seven-day sailings and $1,149 for 10-day sailings.
7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard Carnival's Triumph, March 12-19, sailing from Miami.
A 7-night Western Caribbean Holiday sailing aboard Star Princess.
A 4-night Baja Mexico cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines departing from Los Angeles, CA with sailings from September through February 2005.
The new Mexico season, which follows the ship's Alaska program this summer, features five, seven-day roundtrip sailings calling at the Mexican Riviera's most popular ports -- Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.
The special promotion includes two-for-one fares on all Princess Mediterranean sailings, plus complimentary Princess Travel Care(SM) insurance that offers "cancel for any reason" coverage.
The newest ship in Princess' fleet, Star Princess offers identical Inside Passage ports of call from Seattle, departing on Saturdays versus Diamond Princess' Sunday sailings.
Following the 2003 Alaska season, the ship will return to the French Polynesia region to join her sister ship Tahitian Princess, with a series of sailings beginning on October 3, 2003.
The "Flights of Fancy" program will present the balloon adventure as either pre- or post-sailing on SeaDream's seven-day Mediterranean sailings this year.