Fly the Coop – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

If you’ve ever yearned for freedom or wished to break free from constraints, you might have been ready to fly the coop. But what does this mean? And can a person grow wings? Well, buckle up because I’m about to answer all that and more! Don’t worry, I’ll leave breadcrumbs to follow back!

Fly the Coop Meaning Explained

Fly the Coop – Meaning Origin

Fly the coop is a common idiom that describes someone leaving or escaping from a place, situation or responsibility, usually without warning. Think of a chicken escaping from its coop. No, you don’t need to sprout wings — it’s all metaphorical!

We also use it when describing the idea of growing up, leaving home, and starting your own life. When I officially flew the coop, I moved to a whole new province alone without telling anyone besides my parents.

Different Tenses to Use

  • Past: Flew the coop — As soon as he turned 18, he flew the coop and moved to the city.
  • Present participle: Flying the coop — She’s been thinking about flying the coop for some time now.
  • Present: Flies the coop — Whenever the workload becomes too much, he flies the coop.
  • Past participle: Flown the coop — She had flown the coop by the time they realized she was unhappy.

Origin and Etymology Behind Fly the Coop

Fly the Coop Ngram
Fly the coop usage trend.

Fly the coop was created in American slang and has been used since the late 19th century to describe prisoners escaping from jail. The phrase borrows from the behavior of domesticated birds (chickens, to be precise), which would literally fly the coop to escape confinement.

Fly the Coop Synonyms

  • Take a powder
  • Skip out
  • Do a runner
  • Make a break for it
  • Bolt
  • Take off
  • Scarper
  • Cut and run
  • Run for it
  • Split

Fly the Coop Examples in a Sentence

Fly the Coop – Meaning Origin 1

  • After years of living under strict rules, he finally flew the coop and started living on his own terms.
  • As soon as the meeting got boring, she flew the coop and went to grab a coffee.
  • After five years in the corporate world, she flew the coop and started her own business.
  • My cat seems to fly the coop every time I bring out the vacuum cleaner.
  • Tired of the city’s hustle and bustle, they flew the coop and moved to the countryside.
  • As soon as they sensed trouble, the thieves flew the coop.
  • She waited until her parents were distracted, then she flew the coop to meet her friends.
  • He had always been a free spirit, so it wasn’t a surprise when he flew the coop and traveled the world.
  • She was overwhelmed with responsibilities and wanted to fly the coop.
  • We were supposed to clean the house together, but my brother flew the coop and left me with all the work.

Fly High!

And now you’re all set to use fly the coop in everyday conversation. It can be exhilarating to fly the coop, but it’s not always the best solution. Sometimes, the coop is where the heart (or at least a steady paycheck or a stable life) is. We’ve got oodles of awesome idiom breakdowns like this one on our site!

Know the idioms for the following phrases below: