As the crow flies

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A crow flying across the terrain

As the crow flies, similar to in a beeline, is an idiom for the most direct path between two points. This meaning is attested from the early 19th century,[1][2] and appeared in Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist:

We cut over the fields at the back with him between us – straight as the crow flies – through hedge and ditch.[1]

According to BBC Focus, "'As the crow flies' is a pretty common saying but it isn't particularly accurate".[3] Crows do not swoop in the air like swallows or starlings, but they often circle above their nests.[3] Crows do conspicuously fly alone across open country, but neither crows nor bees (as in “beeline”) fly in particularly straight lines.[3] One claim, that before modern navigational methods were introduced, crows were kept upon ships and released when land was sought [4] has no scientific basis. In fact crows would not travel well in cages as they fight if confined.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Allen, Robert (2008). Allen's Dictionary of English Phrases. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141917689.
  2. ^ Knowles, Elizabeth (2006). The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Oxford University Press, UK. ISBN 9780191578564.
  3. ^ a b c Villazon, Luis. “Do crows actually fly in a straight line?”, BBC Focus (August 30, 2017).
  4. ^
  5. ^

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