fly·​by | \ˈflī-ˌbī \
plural flybys

Definition of flyby 

1 : a prearranged usually low-altitude flight by one or more airplanes over a public gathering (such as an air show)

2a : a flight of a spacecraft past a celestial body (such as Mars) close enough to obtain scientific data

b : a spacecraft that makes a flyby

Examples of flyby in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The flyby is the first of seven that will draw Parker ever closer to the sun. Marcia Dunn, The Seattle Times, "NASA’s Parker Solar Probe swinging by Venus on way to sun," 2 Oct. 2018 So why did the Galileo team miss the data during the initial flyby in 1997? Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "A New Look at Old Data Suggests Europa Shoots Watery Plumes Into Space," 14 May 2018 First, BepiColombo will do a flyby of Earth, then two of Venus, followed by six Mercury flybys. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Two spacecraft are embarking on a seven-year journey to decode Mercury’s mysteries," 19 Oct. 2018 During that time, the spacecraft will make one flyby of Earth, two of Venus, and six of Mercury before finally reaching its destination. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Two orbiters begin their long journey to Mercury Friday night," 19 Oct. 2018 This means that the data collection itself is a slower process, and that, during the Pluto flyby, the Dawn spacecraft was under repair rather than actively gathering info. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Why Aren't We Hearing More About Ceres?," 22 July 2015 These investments would earn these donors a seat on an actual lunar flyby mission. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Russia's Soyuz Spacecraft Could Find New Life as a Lunar Taxi," 6 July 2018 Over the next few months, the New Horizons team will start making long-distance observations of Ultima Thule, and use those observations plus the navigation data to make minor course corrections before the flyby. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "New Horizons Wakes Up to Prepare for Asteroid Flyby," 7 June 2018 Where mountains meet the plain Telfer and his colleagues analyzed the imagery New Horizons captured during its epic flyby. Mike Wall, Scientific American, "Pluto Has Dunes, But They’re Not Made of Sand," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flyby.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of flyby

1953, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for flyby

The first known use of flyby was in 1953

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English Language Learners Definition of flyby

: a usually low flight past a group of people at an air show, during a parade, etc., by an aircraft or group of aircraft

: a flight of a spacecraft past a planet, moon, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on flyby

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flyby

Comments on flyby

What made you want to look up flyby? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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