seat of one's/the pants, by the

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by the seat of (one's) pants

Without a clear plan or direction. Often used in the phrase "fly by the seat of (one's) pants." I know my parents think that I'm just flying by the seat of my pants ever since I dropped out of college, but I just signed with a record label and am launching my singing career!
See also: by, of, pant, seat

by the seat of the pants

Based on intuition or improvisation, without a clear plan or direction. Used especially in the phrase "fly by the seat of the pants." I know my parents think that I'm flying by the seat of the pants ever since I dropped out of college, but I just signed with a record label and am launching my singing career! After he said he wanted to build a wall through the middle of our back yard, it became clear that the architect was just flying by the seat of the pants.
See also: by, of, pant, seat
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*by the seat of one's pants

Fig. by sheer luck and use of intuition. (*Typically: fly ~; make it ~.) I got through school by the seat of my pants. Pilots who are in fog and using only instruments are flying by the seat of their pants.
See also: by, of, pant, seat
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

by the seat of (one's) pants

Informal
1. In a manner based on intuition and experience rather than method: He ran the business by the seat of his pants.
2. Without the use of instruments: an inexperienced pilot who had to fly the aircraft by the seat of her pants.
See also: by, of, pant, seat
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

by the seat of one's pants

By using intuition or improvising. The term comes from World War II, when aviators used it to describe flying when instruments did not work or visibility was poor. After the war it quickly came into more general use, as in “Use a score? No, I just conducted the overture by the seat of my pants.”
See also: by, of, pant, seat

seat of one's/the pants, by the

Using experience, guesswork, or instinct rather than some calculated or scientific method. The term originated among World War II aviators, who so described flying when instruments were not working and/or weather interfered with visibility. It was transferred to other activities in subsequent decades. M. Walker used it in The National Front (1977): “Mussolini had governed by the seat of his pants.”
See also: by, of, seat
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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