by the seat of pants

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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 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

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

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