As the crow flies

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] Before modern navigational methods were introduced, crows were kept upon ships and released when land was sought. Crows instinctively fly towards land.[4]

See also


  1. 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. Villazon, Luis. “Do crows actually fly in a straight line?”, BBC Focus (August 30, 2017).

Further reading

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