Idiom:  play it by ear


Idiom:  play it by ear

  • to do something spontaneously without making a plan in advance
  • to do something without preparation or practice

Example sentences

— I don't know exactly what I'm going to do this weekend; I'm going to play it by ear.

— I'd like to have dinner in the city but I'm not sure how the traffic will be so let's play it by ear

— Would you rather we make a reservation for dinner or should we play it by ear?

— We decided to play it by ear rather than taking a tour and it was really nice to just walk around and get acquainted with the town.

— Your son continues to play it by ear when it comes to presentations. He needs to prepare the next one in advance.

— Let's make a plan for tomorrow. Whenever we play it by ear we just stay home and don't do anything at all.

— I hope the director will be able to do the opening remarks but if not, we'll have to play it by ear.

— Let's play it by ear and not reserve a ride back to the hotel. Some of us may want to go out for drinks after the movie.

— Can't we just make dinner plans for once? Every time we play it by ear we have to wait at least an hour for a table without a reservation.

— Yes, I'd love to play tennis but I'm not sure what the weather is going to be like this weekend. Let's play it by ear

— My parents are complete opposites: my mother likes everything planned in detail and my father always wants to play things by ear.

— I don't know if I want to go shopping this weekend. I'm tired. Let's play it by ear.


  • make it up as you go along
  • wing it
  • at the spur of the moment
  • speak off the cuff
  • go where the wind goes
  • do something on a wing and a prayer
  • stumble into/onto

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