Wing it

The term wing it is an idiom that has been in use at least since the mid-1800s, and maybe even longer. We will examine the definition of the expression wing it, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To wing it means to improvise something, to perform, speak or accomplish something without preparation or forethought. The expression wing it was first used in the realm of the theater, to describe when an actor was thrust into the performance of a role for which he was not prepared. The idea is of someone standing in the wings of the theater when an emergency of some sort occurs, and a previously prepared performer is unable to appear. The substitute performer may not know all the lines, but is urged to improvise his way through the performance, accepting prompts from a reader who remains in the wings. Related phrases are wings it, winged it, winging it. The term wing it may also refer to a situation in which a hunting shot does not meet its mark, but only grazes the intended target.

Examples

When it was time for the big sex scene in the world premiere of Switch at the Fringe Logan Arts Space in D.C. last month, it wasn’t enough to let the actors wing it. (The Denton Record-Chronicle)

“To shoot and edit the video only took me around two hours, but I pretty much winged it.” (The Weekly Times)

“Not much practice yesterday, and we didn’t do any qualifying runs, so we just kind of winged it.” (The Superior Telegram)