How many meanings has the phrase "time flies like an arrow"

I know fruit flies like a banana, but I recall reading a book that claimed there were at least seven distinct possible meanings for the phrase “time flies like an arrow”

So far, I’ve got:
Simile: Time moves fast, like an arrow moves fast
Simile, literal, although untrue: Time describes a parabolic arc, then falls to the ground
Instruction: Please measure the speed of flies which resemble arrows
Instruction: Please measure the speed of flies in the same way you would measure the speed of an arrow
Declaration: Insects of a type known as ‘time flies’ are fond of arrows

That’s only 5 (and I’m not really happy about the second one). What other possible interpretations are there?

Measure the speed of flies the way an arrow would measure the speed of flies.

While these are different interpretations of what the intent of the statement is, the sentence has the same meaning in both: “The manner in which time moves through the air is similar to the manner in which an arrow moves through the air”. It is left open to the reader which aspects of arrow flight are being supposed to be similar to time flight. If those two are different meanings of the sentence, then I could say the sentence means this too, for any X:

Time does X as it flies in the same manner that an arrow does X as it flies.


Ok, I see what you’re saying: Time, as a solid object, literally flies in the second version, while it only metaphorically flies in the first. That’s a stretch, and it comes down to what exactly you mean by “different meaning”.

“Time travels in one direction, like a arrow which has been released,” would be another, I think.

“In one direction,” as opposed to the relatively omnidirectional result of, say, a bomb going off.

As noted, I was unhappy with item 2 from the start. I don’t think it’s really a different interpretation of the juxtaposition of words in the way we’re looking for.

I don’t disagree with this as a possible interpretation, but I think it suffers the same problem as my item 2 - it’s not really a reading of this arrangement of words, it’s an inference based on them.

I just have to say that the old saying, “Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana” always brings a smile to my face.

See, in my mind I got “horse flies like a pile of shit.”

The physical mechanisms by which time flies (Newton, Bernoulli, whatever) are similar to those by which an arrow flies.

Analogously, “Teach the recruits like a drill sergeant.” == Teach the recruits as if you were a drill sergeant (implication is that you are not actually a drill sergeant)

A copy of “Time” magazine, when thrown, flies like an arrow?

Now we’re getting into semantics. I’ve understood the whole point of “Time flies like an arrow” as a thought excercise about the ambiguities of grammar itself.

Colloquial (leaving off the “It’s about”, I’ve heard the usage):

Flies finally like an arrow, which should have happened at earlier date.

Even more tortured:

It turns out that flies which are too drunk to fly home should take an “Arrow” cab. One imagines the bartender:

“Time, flies. Like an Arrow?”

Instruction: Insects of the type known as “time flies,” please take pleasure in an arrow.

Ascertain how long it takes to say “flies like an arrow.” (Maybe not.)

My friends and I used to play word games like this when we were really stoned in college. I distinctly remember seeing the phrase “Shmock Hock D’Pop!” spoken by an R. Crumb comic character and we debated what it was supposed to mean, eventually concluding that someone named Shmock hocked a can of soda. “Shmock hocked the pop.”

“Flies like an arrow” is the name of an American Indian. Time him.

Another metaphorical interpretation: Time flies like an arrow in the sense that the passage of time will eventually have the same effect on you that being hit by a flying arrow would.

Pinch archer.

No no, an issue of Time was devoted to Flies Like an Arrow and his roll in Little Bighorn. Time: Flies Like an Arrow Shot Up Custer.