"As the crow flies" or "as the bird flies" means the most direct path between two points, not accounting for streets and obstacles one on the ground would have to account for.

The idiom feels dated. Is there a more modern saying that means the same thing?

  • Not really a saying but "in a straight line" works – wrymug May 27 at 23:57
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    I'm not sure there is any better phrase meaning distance measured by a ruler on the map (as opposed to distance that a person has to travel in practice, accounting for the indirect layout of thoroughfares and so on). I wouldn't say the idiom is dated - it is quite regularly heard and the meaning and context of use appear to be very specific. – Steve May 28 at 1:15
  • What makes you think it's "dated"? There are still crows, are there not? – bof May 28 at 1:41
  • Straight as an arrow! – Hot Licks May 28 at 2:18
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    You will say "The length of the rhumb line joining the following points..." Then you give the coordinates and specify the datum. This sounds more modern. – jlovegren May 28 at 3:42

The modern phrase I've heard for this is "straight line distance"

It's five hundred miles from A to B as the crow flies

The straight line distance from A to B is five hundred miles.

  • How about "as Google gives it"? – Hot Licks May 28 at 2:19

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