I'm 'pants at' football [origin?]

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Senior Member
American English
"Flying by the seat of his pants" commonly means "working it out as he goes along", which roughly equates to "not technically skilled".
I'm not sure if my variety of US English is even relevant to the topic - whatever the topic is at this point - but anyway: I disagree with the part after the comma.

I think one generally has to be extremely technically skilled to fly by the seat of one's pants, because to me the phrase means "handle a situation without preparation." I could, if I had to, walk into a courtroom twenty minutes from now and try a simple battery case without even seeing a report beforehand; that would by "flying by the seat of my pants." The only reason I could do it is because of my skill; I've done a hundred of them. Someone just out of law school - someone technically unskilled - would probably have serious trouble doing it.
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    From Phrase Finder:
    The term emerged in the 1930s and was first widely used in reports of Douglas Corrigan's flight from the USA to Ireland in 1938. That flight was reported in many US newspapers of the day, including this piece, titled 'Corrigan Flies By The Seat Of His Pants', in The Edwardsville Intelligencer, 19th July 1938:
    "Douglas Corrigan was described as an aviator 'who flies by the seat of his pants' today by a mechanic who helped him rejuvinate the plane which airport men have now nicknamed the 'Spirit of $69.90'. The old flying expression of 'flies by the seat of his trousers' was explained by Larry Conner, means going aloft without instruments, radio or other such luxuries."​



    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This discussion, though engaging, must be more speculative than the rules of the forum allow.

    I am closing this thread.

    Thank you all for your contributions.

    Cagey, English Only moderator.
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