Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
Related to plain sailing: Plane 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.
Progress or advancement that is free from hassle and easy to achieve. If we can just get the application approved, it should be smooth sailing from there. Organizing the event was really stressful, but it was pretty smooth sailing on the day.
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.
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.
plain sailingBRITISH or
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.
plain sailingused to characterize a process or activity that goes well and is easy and uncomplicated.
Perfectly straightforward; an easy and unobstructed course. The term comes from navigation, where it means sailing in waters that are free of hazards, particularly rocks or other obstructions. Used since the nineteenth century, it may have come from the earlier navigational term plane sailing, the art of determining a ship’s position without reference to the fact that the earth is round, and therefore sailing on a plane (flat surface), which works, but only for a short distance. Plain sailing was transferred to other pursuits in the early nineteenth century. Shaw used it in his preface to Androcles and the Lion (1916): “Without the proper clues the gospels are . . . incredible. . . . But with the clues they are fairly plain sailing.” A synonymous term is smooth sailing, used figuratively since the first half of the 1800s. Edward Bulwer Lytton had it in Night and Morning (1841), “‘Oh, then it’s all smooth sailing,’ replied the other.” See also hard/tough sledding.