by the seat of one's pants

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, 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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References in periodicals archive ?
For me this is a golden opportunity to do something that ain't been done before, but it is also a journey into never-never land flying by the seat of one's pants. But there is some logic to help us a bit.
Holdouts in an age of big-money politics, these leaders and their low-budget tactics demonstrate that the fight for justice can be fought by the seat of one's pants. Their methods range from political art projects like the quilt to walks through small-town America.
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