fly·​ing | \ ˈflī-iŋ How to pronounce flying (audio) \

Definition of flying

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : moving or capable of moving in the air
b : moving or made by moving rapidly flying feet a flying leap
c : very brief
2 : intended for ready movement or action a flying squad car
3 : having stylized wings used especially of livestock brand marks
4 : of or relating to the operation of aircraft a flying club
5 : traversed or to be traversed (as in speed-record trials) after a running start a flying kilometer
with flying colors
: with complete or eminent success



Definition of flying (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : travel by air
2 : the operation of an aircraft or spacecraft

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Synonyms & Antonyms for flying

Synonyms: Adjective

cursory, drive-by, gadarene, hasty, headlong, helter-skelter, hurried, overhasty, pell-mell, precipitate, precipitous, rash, rushed

Synonyms: Noun


Antonyms: Adjective

deliberate, unhurried, unrushed

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Examples of flying in a Sentence


a story about a flying car a flying attempt at finishing the work


had never had the slightest fear of flying
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

From building model planes as a youth until his passing, Armstrong carried a deep fascination with learning how flying machines worked. Jamie Turner,, "How Neil Armstrong earned the moon landing’s lead role: Apollo 11 at 50," 16 July 2019 And in 2017, The New York Times reported on a shadowy program at the Pentagon that has been investigating reports of unidentified flying objects for years. Jacey Fortin,, "‘Storm Area 51’ Facebook group is a million strong, but it’s a joke — kind of," 15 July 2019 Following the war’s conclusion, Friend acted as an operations officer in Korea and Vietnam; worked on early rocket programs; and led Project Blue Book, a classified Air Force study of unidentified flying objects. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Robert Friend, Tuskegee Airman Who Flew in 142 Combat Missions, Dies at 99," 26 June 2019 Fifty years later, in 1992, one of the P-38s was extracted from the ice and restored to flying condition: the infamous Glacier Girl. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "WWII P-38 Discovered Under 300 Feet of Ice in Greenland," 27 July 2018 That facility will include a mission control for experimentation on the International Space Station, a Dream Chaser simulator, and an indoor flight environment for drones and other flying vehicles without humans on board. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "SpaceX organizes inaugural conference to plan landings on Mars," 6 Aug. 2018 The swarms of low-cost, disposable flying objects could perform tasks that no single spacecraft can do on its own. Steve Nadis, Discover Magazine, "The Tiny Satellites That Might Fly to Another Solar System," 18 Oct. 2018 In December 2017, The New York Times published an account involving U.S. Navy fighter pilots and their encounter with unidentified flying objects. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "70 Years and Counting, the UFO Phenomenon Is as Mysterious As Ever," 2 July 2018 These relatively large flying insects are also found widely across the state. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Top 5 Wisconsin wildlife risks to humans? Maybe not what you think.," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Another is tough but stretchy to absorb the impact of flying insects. NBC News, "Spider silk 'library' could hold secrets for new materials," 14 Aug. 2019 That’s either one-way or roundtrip, as long as the flying is done on Aug. 13. Richard Tribou,, "Frontier Airlines giving free flights to people with this last name," 8 Aug. 2019 So right now the most effective way to curb climate impacts from flying is simply to fly less. Umair Irfan, Vox, "This website shows you exactly how guilty you should feel about flying," 7 Aug. 2019 The explosion generated a mushroom cloud over the blast site and sent shrapnel flying as far as 9.3 miles away. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Huge Russian Ammo Explosion Sends Shockwaves for Miles," 5 Aug. 2019 Flying pioneer Amelia Earhart was born 122 years ago Wednesday, celebrated as Amelia Earhart Day, marks 122 years to the day since the female flying pioneer was born. Fatima Farha, USA TODAY, "Robert Mueller testimony, Boris Johnson takes over as Britain PM: 5 things to know Wednesday," 24 July 2019 Be Ready: Create and maintain defensible space and harden your home against flying embers. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Cal Fire briefs planners on fire preparedness efforts," 18 July 2019 Today, at 85, Dwight recalled his early dreams of flying as a full-body memory, stretching up from his toes to the soft pads of his fingers to illustrate the angles of flight and descent. Emily Ludolph, New York Times, "Ed Dwight Was Set to Be the First Black Astronaut. Here’s Why That Never Happened.," 16 July 2019 Related Delta said flying capacity expanded by 4.7% during the second quarter, while American reported this week that its capacity shrank during the quarter. Alison Sider, WSJ, "Delta Gains From MAX Grounding and High Demand," 11 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flying.' 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 flying


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for flying

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for flying

The first known use of flying was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for flying



English Language Learners Definition of flying

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: moving or able to move in the air



English Language Learners Definition of flying (Entry 2 of 2)

: the activity of traveling in an aircraft

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Comments on flying

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


to shake or wave menacingly

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