as the crow flies


as the crow flies

Meaning | Synonyms

  • in a straight line
  • by the shortest route
  • directly or straight
  • nonstop or uninterrupted
  • without stopping

Example Sentences

  1. The nearest hotel is about 24 kilometers away as the crow flies.
  2. There is a beautiful hill station about 20 miles away as the crow flies, right from where we are standing now.
  3. It’s only three miles to Square Tower as the crow flies, but it’s all of ten miles if the Glasgow Hamilton Road is closed and one has to drive round the Johnston Road.
  4. Just go on this route as the crow flies, and you may save about 40 minutes.
  5. I am driving for 4 hours on this trail as the crow flies and we reached nowhere yet – I think we are lost.
  6. It was remarkable bike ride as the crow flies on Alaska-Canadian Highway.


The phrase has been in use since the 1700s. It refers to the fact that the crow is a very intelligent creature and would not take a long route if a short one was available. It is unhindered by obstacles and can fly in a straight line.

There is no definite origin for the phrase, but one theory is that it is related to sailing. Crows are said to have been kept on ships and when the sailors suspected that they were close to land they would let the crows out. The crows would then find the most direct route to a source of food, which could be found on land. The sailors would then sail in the direction that they crow flew. Although this story seems plausible, it seems as if is not the true origin of the idiom.

One of the earliest examples of the phrase can be found in The Gentleman’s and London Magazine from 1761.

” the country that those Indians inhabit is upwards of 400 miles broad, and above 600 long, each as the crow flies.”

Another example from 1798 indicates that the phrase was well known during this time.

“The Spaniard, if on foot, always travels as the crow flies…”

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