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As the crow flies

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 02, 2005

In Reply to: The way the crow flies posted by ESC on July 01, 2005

: : Does "the way the crow flies" mean the same as "as the crow flies"?

: Yes, I believe so.

"The way the crow flies" can be used as a very clumsy equivalent to "as the crow flies." One cannot always bring immediately to mind the "mot juste." But out of context one would expect "the way the crow flies" to refer to the particularities of crow flight, without reference to its directionality. An earlier post wondered, "Why crows? Why not some other bird?" I pondered that, with no certain conclusion. But obviously what is needed for a popular cliche is a well-known bird, a fairly large one, and one that is often seen in straight flight. Virtually all songbirds are out, because they are mostly small and certainly not known for straight flight. Raptors are out, because the large ones ride the thermals except when stooping. They have large movements in straight flight during migrations, but are not often seen in migrations. Ducks and geese in migration are large, straight fliers. But they are most often seen NOT in migration, so most of their flight is not a propos. Crows are gregarious and are often seen just milling around, or flying from one position to another, like starlings. But one can often see a single crow head off into the distance. So while a crow is not the only choice, it is at least as suitable for the saying as any other bird, and more suitable than most. SS

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