on the fly


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on the fly

Quickly and informally, without thought or preparation. I ran into my boss in town, so I had to think up an excuse on the fly as to why I wasn't at work.
See also: fly, on
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

on the fly

[done] while something or someone is operating or moving. I'll try to capture the data on the fly. Please try to buy some aspirin somewhere on the fly today.
See also: fly, on
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

on the fly

In a hurry, on the run, as in I picked up some groceries on the fly. The transfer of this expression, which literally means "in midair or in flight," dates from the mid-1800s.
See also: fly, on
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

on the fly

mainly AMERICAN
If you do something on the fly, you do it quickly, without thinking about it or planning it in advance. These people can make decisions on the fly and don't have to phone home to their boss. This gives architects and designers the power to build an environment, explore it and maybe do some designing on the fly.
See also: fly, on
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

on the fly

1 while in motion. 2 while busy or active. 3 (of an addition or modification in computing) carried out during the running of a program without interrupting the run.
See also: fly, on
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

on the ˈfly

(informal)
1 if you do something on the fly, you do it quickly while something else is happening, and without thinking about it very much: I usually eat my breakfast on the fly.
2 (in computing) if something is produced on the fly, it is created immediately while the computer program is running: This is a new program that creates GIF images on the fly.
See also: fly, on
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

on the fly

mod. while something or someone is operating or moving. I’ll try to capture the data on the fly.
See also: fly, on
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

on the fly

1. In a hurry or between pressing activities: took lunch on the fly.
2. While moving: The outfielder caught the ball on the fly.
3. In the air; in flight: The ball carried 500 feet on the fly.
4. While activity is ongoing: A coach can change players on the fly in hockey. This computer program compiles on the fly when a script is executed.
See also: fly, on
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.

on the fly

Hurriedly, on the run. This expression originally meant “on the wing,” that is, in flight, and was being used figuratively by the mid-1800s. An article in The Nation stated, “He may be said to have caught the Melanesian people on the fly” (Aug. 4, 1892).
See also: fly, on
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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