Also found in: Wikipedia.
Progress or advancement that is free from difficulties, obstacles, or challenges. If we can just get the application approved, then we should have smooth sailing from there. Organizing the event was really stressful, but it actually turned out to be pretty smooth sailing on the day.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
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