Flying in the face of convention, the writer George Sand shocked her contemporaries by taking lovers and by wearing men's clothes.

Literally flying means move through the air but in this sentence I understand that this is used metaphorically. Could anyone help me to understand what does flying means in this sentence.

  • 3
    This phrase, fly in the face of something, means "to completely oppose, or be completely opposite to, something that most people believe or accept". – Damkerng T. Sep 23 '15 at 21:12
  • It is worthwhile reading Oald's article to fly. A lot of uses, constructions and sayings one does not suspect.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/fly_1?q=fly – rogermue Sep 24 '15 at 1:37
  • Note that the term you want is metaphorically, not *metamorphically. (Though I suppose you could say that every metaphor may be seen as a sort of semantic metamorphosis!) – StoneyB Sep 24 '15 at 22:42

Fly has been used for more than 400 years in metaphorical senses of "move with a sudden rush" and, by extension, "move with sudden violence". To fly out is to express oneself with sudden vehemence or anger, to fly off the handle is to lose one's temper or self-control, to fly at someone is to attack them furiously.

And face is used figuratively in a number of expressions to signify "confrontation" (note that front itself, etymologically, is the forehead and by extension the face). We speak of facing an enemy, of remaining brave in the face of danger, and of getting in somebody's face, to become personally belligerent.

So to fly in the face of something is to challenge it aggressively, to attack it, to oppose it violently.

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