Re: on the fly

Subject: Re: on the fly
From: Jeanette Feldhousen <jeanette_feldhousen -at- MENTORG -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 11:17:42 -0700

On May 12, 11:59am, Stephen Victor wrote:
> I've always disliked this expression. I suppose it's a fairly common
> piece of jargon, but since it's vague and imprecise, I'd avoid it like
> the plague. (Oh, another cliche.) Where does "on the fly" come from
> anyway? Is it a military expression, related to flying or paratrooping
> or something?
> Whenever I hear the expression, I immediately get a quite literal visual
> image of...well, the zipper area of a pair of pants.

I looked at Merriam Webster's online dictionary ( to see
if there was a thesaurus entry for it (there wasn't). As for the etymology,
it seems to suggest that the expression comes from sports: to catch a ball
on the fly, for example, meaning to catch it before it bounces. As other
people have pointed out, this might be pretty difficult to translate. But if
the expression comes from a sport like baseball, it might not even be
understood in other English-speaking countries.


Jeanette Feldhousen jeanette_feldhousen -at- mentorg -dot- com
Mentor Graphics Corporation
8005 SW Boeckman Road, Wilsonville, OR 97070

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