Sunday, January 24, 2010

Flying by the seat of your pants is cheaper

In the 1930’s, pilots flew with few instruments, relying primarily on their own judgment. The phrase “flying by the seat of your pants” was coined during this time, and used in a news article about the Douglas Corrigan’s 1938 flight from the U.S. to Ireland. The same article referenced the phrase “flying by the seat of his trousers,” which implies a British origin.

Although the origins of this phrase correspond from source to source, different meanings are given. Here’s a sampling:

Decide a course of action as you go along, using your own initiative and perceptions rather than a pre-determined plan or mechanical aids.”

Act according to one’s own desires or beliefs without regard for standards for social behavior, logical sensibility, or the approval of others.”

“To do something difficult without the necessary experience or ability.”

There’s also a fun variation on the phrase. “Panster” is a word used by one blogger to describe the way she writes her novels: “I am a panster – as in I don’t outline, I don’t have much of a clue what’s going to happen, and I write by the seat of my pants.”

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