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be plain sailing
To be smooth, uninterrupted, and/or easy, especially as of progress, travel, or development. Now that we've gotten that problem figured out, the project should be plain sailing from here on! We've got about 13 hours of driving ahead of us, but it looks like most of it is plain sailing.
be sailing under false colors
To be operating under the guise of false pretenses, so as to deceive someone or to hide one's true nature or intentions. (An allusion to the identifying flags of a ship.) Tim thought he could just put on fancy clothes and rub elbows with the upper crust that Janet's family socialized with, but everyone at the party knew he was sailing under false colors. Lest you think I'm sailing under false colors, let me say straight away that I'm being paid to give a review of this product today.
Describing a situation that is free of obstacles or challenges, especially after obstacles or challenges have been overcome. We should be there soon—now that we're past the traffic jam, it should be clear sailing from here on out.
The guise of false pretenses, so as to deceive someone or to hide one's true nature or intentions. (An allusion to the identifying flags of a ship, and so usually used in the phrase "sail under false colors.") Primarily heard in US. Tim thought he could just put on fancy clothes and rub elbows with the upper crust that Janet's family socialized with, but everyone at the party knew he was sailing under false colors. I don't want to be accused of flying under false colors, so let me say straight away that I'm being paid to give a review of this product today.
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.
sail against the wind
To work to achieve something amid challenging circumstances, such as staunch opposition. This nautical phrase refers to the difficulty of sailing in the opposite direction as the wind. I know that I am sailing against the wind to try get this unpopular law passed, but I am confident that it will ultimately make our town a safer place.
1. To continue traveling at a steady, continuous pace in a boat or plane. It was exhilarating at first, and then it became incredibly serene as we sailed along over the fields in the tiny airplane. We were sailing along, minding out own business, when suddenly a whole pod of whales began breaching right alongside us!
2. To follow a particular route or course while traveling in a boat or plane. We sailed along the Gulf Stream at a very fast clip. Instead of sailing along the original course, the pilot diverted the plane over Albany to avoid the inclement weather in Buffalo.
1. To travel in the air or on the water in an aimless or leisurely manner. It's a beautiful day to take the schooner out and just sail around for a few hours. There were a number of birds sailing around overhead, waiting to see if we would drop any of our food.
2. To travel in a boat or plain along a route that bypasses or circumnavigates something. We'll have to sail around the massive storms in Buffalo if we want to ensure the safety of everyone on board.. We're finally sailing around Cape Horn tomorrow morning.
sail before the wind
To achieve something easily. This nautical phrase refers to the ease of sailing in the same direction as the wind. I don't understand people who just sail before the wind and get great grades without ever opening a book, when I study really hard and am just an average student. I hardly studied, and I still got A's on all of my exams—I really sailed before the wind this semester!
sail close to the wind
To do something risky or dangerous. If you keep sailing close to the wind, the police are going to arrest you eventually.
sail for (some place)
To travel by boat or ship to some location. We're flying to Athens, then we sail for the island of Naxos the very next morning. I knew she would be sailing for America soon, so I didn't want to start any sort of romantic engagement with her that had no chance of lasting.
sail from (some place) to (some place else)
To travel by boat or ship from some location to another. We'll be sailing from Athens to the island of Naxos a couple of days after we arrive. I can't believe you sailed all the way from Ireland to America.
1. To enter or arrive in a boat, ship, or plane. The great cliffs of the island rose to greet us as we sailed in on our yacht. The plane sailed in just after midnight.
2. To enter or arrive in an abrupt and nonchalant manner. Five minutes after the meeting started, Janet sailed in as if nothing were amiss. I think a lot of people are worried that the new manager will just sail in and disrupt the entire way we do things.
1. To enter or arrive into some place or thing in a boat, ship, or plane. The great cliffs of the island rose to greet us as we sailed into the harbor. Apparently we had sailed into a restricted airspace without even realizing it.
2. To enter or arrive into some place or thing an abrupt and nonchalant manner. Janet sailed into the meeting 20 minutes late, acting as though nothing were amiss. I think a lot of people are worried that the new manager will just sail into the office and disrupt the entire way we do things.
sail near the wind
1. Into the direction that the wind is coming from. A nautical phrase. We should be sailing near the wind in conditions like this.
2. In a risky or dangerous manner. If you keep sailing so near the wind, the police are going to arrest you eventually.
sail under false colors
To operate using or under the guise of false pretenses, so as to deceive someone or to hide one's true nature or intentions. (An allusion to the identifying flags of a ship.) Tim thought he could just put on fancy clothes and rub elbows with the upper crust that Janet's family socialized with, but everyone at the party knew he was sailing under false colors. I don't want to be accused of sailing under false colors, so let me say that I'm being paid to give a review of this product today.
sail up the/a/(some) river
To travel in a boat, especially a sailboat, upstream through a river. I managed to sail up the river by constantly adjusting my position in relation to the current and the wind. The navy vessels sailed up the River Thames as part of the Remembrance Day festivities.
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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
*clear sailingand *smooth sailing
Fig. a situation where progress is made without any difficulty. (*Typically: be ~; have ~.) Once you've passed that exam, it will be clear sailing to graduation. Working there was not all smooth sailing. The boss had a very bad temper.
sail along (something)
to travel on a course in a boat or plane. The huge white ship sailed along the Amazon River slowly and peacefully. The boat sailed along peacefully.
to travel by water in a boat or ship. We sailed around for about an hour and then went back to the shore. Let's go out and sail around before dinner.
sail into someone
Fig. to attack someone; to chastise someone. (Based on sail into someone or something.) The angry coach sailed into the players. The teacher sailed into Timmy for breaking the window.
sail into someone or something
1. to crash into someone or something with a boat or ship. The boat sailed into the dock, causing considerable damage. I was in my skiff when a larger boat sailed into me.
2. to crash into someone or something. The missile sailed into the soldiers, injuring a few. The car sailed into the lamppost.
sail in (to something)
1. Lit. to travel into something or some place in a boat or ship. We sailed into the harbor nearly an hour late. We sailed in at noon.
2. Fig. to move or proceed into something or some place gracefully or without resistance. She sailed into the room wearing a flowing gown. Three young maidens sailed into the room before the door closed.
sail under false colors
1. Lit. to sail with false identification. (Pirates often sailed under the national flag of the ship they planned on attacking.) The ship, sailing under false colors, suddenly started to pursue our ship. Bluebeard the pirate was known for sailing under false colors.
2. Fig. to function deceptively. You are not who you seem to be. You are sailing under false colors. Tom was sailing under false colors and finally got found out.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Pretense, misrepresentation, or hypocrisy; deceptive statements or actions. For example, She's sailing under false colors-she claims to be a Republican, but endorses Democratic legislation . This term alludes to the practice of pirate ships sailing under false colors-that is, running a particular flag specifically to lure another vessel close enough to be captured. [Late 1600s]
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.
sail close to the wind
Be on the verge of doing something illegal or improper, as in She was sailing pretty close to the wind when she called him a liar. This term alludes to the danger incurred when literally sailing too close to (that is, in the direction of) the wind. Its figurative use dates from the first half of the 1800s.
Attack or criticize vigorously, as in It was part of his technique to sail into the sales force at the start of their end-of-the-year meeting . This term derives from sail in the sense of "move vigorously." [Mid-1800s]
sail under false colors
see under false colors.
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.
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.
be sailing under false coloursBRITISH
If someone or something is sailing under false colours, they are deliberately deceiving people. Note: A ship's colours are its national flag. This report sails under false colours. It claims to be a fair and rigorous examination of the issue, but it is no such thing. Note: When pirate ships spotted a treasure ship, they often took down their own flag and raised the flag of a friendly nation, in order to get close enough to the ship to attack it.
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.
sail close to the windmainly BRITISH
If someone or something sails close to the wind, they take a risk by doing or saying something which almost breaks rules or laws. Max warned her she was sailing dangerously close to the wind and risked prosecution. I have never known a comedy series to sail so close to the wind. Note: If someone sails a boat too close to the wind, they try to sail in the direction from which the wind is blowing, and stop or capsize as a result.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
plain sailingused to characterize a process or activity that goes well and is easy and uncomplicated.
sail close to (or near) the windverge on indecency, dishonesty, or disaster. informal
This originated as a nautical expression, meaning ‘sail as nearly against the wind as is possible’. It has been in figurative use since the mid 19th century.
1996 Martin Dove How To Win Any Consumer Competition I like the extra thrill of writing to a tight deadline but sometimes I do sail a bit close to the wind with closing dates.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
be (all) plain ˈsailing(American English also be clear ˈsailing) be simple and free from trouble: Life with him isn’t all plain sailing, you know. ♢ She answered the first question well and from then on it was all plain sailing.
sail close to the ˈwindbehave in a way that is almost illegal or socially unacceptable: She’s been late for work three times this week, which is sailing close to the wind, I think.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To move across the surface of water into some place. Used especially of a sailing vessel or its crew: The ship sailed into the harbor.
2. To move into some place smoothly or effortlessly: The student sailed into the room five minutes late.
3. To attack or criticize someone vigorously: The supervisor sailed into the workers for the shoddy job they were doing.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
mod. easy; easy going. It’ll be clear sailing from now on.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer