(plural flys). A hackney coach, a cab. A contraction of
Fly-by-night, as sedan chairs on wheels used to be called in the
regency. These “Fly-by-nights,” patronised greatly by George, Prince
of Wales, and his boon companions, during their wild night pranks at
Brighton, were invented 1809 by John Butcher, a carpenter of Jew
“In the morning we took a fly, an English term for an exceedingly
sluggish vehicle, and drove up to the Minister's.” —Hawthorne: Our
Old House (Pilgrimage to Old Boston, p.171).
(plural flies). An insect. All flies shall perish except
one, and that is the bee-fly. (Koran.)
has three eyes and two compound eyes, each of which has 4,000
facets. The god of flies. In the temple of Actium the Greeks
used to sacrifice annually an ox to the god of flies. Pliny tells us
that at Rome sacrifice was offered to flies in the temple of Hercules
Victor. The Syrians undoubtedly offered sacrifice to the same tiny
tormentors. It is said that no fly was ever seen in Solomon's temple.
ACHOR, god of the Cyrenians, to whom, according to Pliny, they
offered sacrifice. (APOMYIOS, a surname given by the Cyrenians to Zeus,
for delivering Herakles [Hercules] from flies during sacrifice.
Sacrifices were yearly offered to Zeus Apomyios. (Greek, apo-myia,
BELZEBUB or BEELZEBUTH (Prince of Flies) was one of the principal
Syrian gods, to whom sacrifice was offered on all ferialia.
BUCLOPUS, in Roman mythology. (Rhod. xxii. 3.)
MYAGROS (the fly-chaser), one of the deities of the Arcadians and
Eleans. (Pliny, x. 28.) (Greek, myia a fly; agra, taken
in hunting or chasing.)
Flies in amber.
(See under Amber.)
To crush a fly on a wheel.
Making a mountain of a mole-hill. Taking a wheel used for
torturing criminals and heretics for killing a fly, which one might
destroy with a flapper.
Fly on the coach-wheel
(A). One who fancies himself of mighty importance, but who
is in reality of none at all. The allusion is to the fable of a fly
sitting on a chariot-wheel and saying, “See what a dust we make!”
Not a fly with him.
Domitian, the Roman emperor, was fond of catching flies, and one of
his slaves, being asked if the emperor was alone, wittily replied, “Not
a fly with him.”
To rise to the fly.
To be taken in by a hoax, as a fish rises to a false fly and is
“He [the professor] rose to the fly with a charming simplicity.” —Grant Allen: The Mysterious Occurrence in Piccadilly, part ii.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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