on the fly

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Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) premeditated

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b) in an elegant manner

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c) unplanned

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If you do something on the fly, you do it in a quick and informal way, without paying too much attention, while you are doing something else. The phrase refers to something created when needed, something that was not planned ahead. In other words it is something you do on the run.

French translation

à la volée, sur le pouce

How NOT to translate : *sur la mouche

Examples in context

‘Rebuilding America : Abilene car dealership adjusts on the fly to coronavirus outbreak. Sometimes, a crisis leads to creativity and progress.
The coronavirus pandemic, for example, forced Arrow Ford to jump ahead a bit in the digital world.
The Abilene car dealership already had signed on with a digital marketing plan before COVID-19. But when the outbreak forced a nearly two-month limited local shelter-in-place order, Arrow had to leap headfirst into the digital world. Now, you can shop and buy a car without leaving home.’

Abilene Reporter News, 28 May 2020


‘Grocery stores that adjusted on the fly don’t face the same reopening challenges as others.
Supermarket chains and other grocery retailers in Arizona aren’t preparing for the reopening of the economy like a lot of other businesses. That’s because food stores already had to make significant adjustments on the run, as they never shut down during the coronavirus outbreak.’

Arizona Republic, 28 May 2020


Everyday usage

On my way home, I’ll try to buy us something to eat on the fly.

Thar’s impressive : she wrote her book on the fly, in two days only.

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