butterfly

noun, often attributive
but·​ter·​fly | \ ˈbə-tər-ˌflī How to pronounce butterfly (audio) \

Definition of butterfly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of numerous slender-bodied diurnal lepidopteran insects including one superfamily (Papilionoidea) with broad often brightly colored wings and usually another superfamily comprising the skippers
2 : something that resembles or suggests a butterfly especially : a person chiefly occupied with the pursuit of pleasure
3 : a swimming stroke executed in a prone position by moving both arms in a circular motion while kicking both legs up and down
4 butterflies plural : a feeling of hollowness or queasiness caused especially by emotional or nervous tension or anxious anticipation
5 : a defensive move by a goalie in ice hockey executed by dropping to the knees while spreading the lower legs outward

butterfly

verb
butterflied; butterflying

Definition of butterfly (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to split almost entirely and spread apart a butterflied steak butterflied shrimp

Examples of butterfly in a Sentence

Noun

They competed in the butterfly.

Verb

Butterfly the chicken before roasting.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Cassie packed a box with fake butterflies, and Colton keeps one. Anna Moeslein, Glamour, "The Bachelor Season Premiere Recap: Did You Know Colton's a Virgin?," 7 Jan. 2019 Areas that are now bare earth will first be planted with grass to prevent erosion, Collibee said, but are eventually to be turned into wildflower meadows to provide nutrients for key pollinators like butterflies and wild bees. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "'Unfortunately, Mother Nature Took It Away.' Sleeping Giant State Park Remains Unrecognizable As Storm Cleanup Continues," 11 July 2018 The Duchess of Sussex has previously worn Diana's aquamarine cocktail ring and a pair of gold butterfly earrings. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Wore Princess Diana's Sapphire Earrings in Scotland," 29 Jan. 2019 Each year, the society and its volunteers count butterflies in around 300 different locations across the state, maintaining a record of monarch populations going back decades. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Monarch Butterflies Are on the Verge of Extinction," 17 Jan. 2019 Osborne and Little’s butterfly pattern upholstery—seen on the lampshades and chair—inspired the bedroom’s overall color scheme. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "An Uninspired NYC Apartment Is Revived With Color, Charisma, and Customization," 17 Jan. 2019 Earlier in the day, Albiero watched her brother, Nic – a freshman at U of L – win the 200 butterfly in the ACC Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Sacred Heart swimmers again prove they're in 'A League of Their Own'," 24 Feb. 2018 Brown Deer/University school was led by standout Ben Hayes, who won the 200 individual medley in 1:52.57 and the 100 butterfly in 50.56 seconds. Andrew Gruman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Whitefish Bay swim finishes as sectional runner-up, Cedarburg moves seven entries on to state meet," 14 Feb. 2018 More than 40 years ago, the University of Maryland biologist started studying when wildflowers, birds, bees and butterflies first appeared each spring on this mountain. Seth Borenstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Looking for signs of global warming? They’re all around you," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Learn how to handle raw chicken with this step-by-step guide to butterflying boneless, skinless, chicken breast. Country Living, "How To Butterfly Chicken Video," 21 Sep. 2010 Spatchcocked chicken with fig glaze Serves 4 Also known as butterflying the bird, spatchcocking involves removing the chicken’s backbone with a pair of kitchen shears, and then flattening it before sliding it onto a hot grill. sacbee, "It’s prime time for grilling – try these recipes," 13 June 2017 Spatchcocked chicken with fig glaze Serves 4 Also known as butterflying the bird, spatchcocking involves removing the chicken’s backbone with a pair of kitchen shears, and then flattening it before sliding it onto a hot grill. Sacbee, sacbee.com, "It’s prime time for grilling – try these recipes," 13 June 2017 Slice pork tenderloin lengthwise to butterfly it, but don’t quite slice all the way through: The 2 pieces should remain attached. Melissa Clark, charlotteobserver, "Keep the tender in your pork tenderloin," 6 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'butterfly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of butterfly

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1947, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for butterfly

The first known use of butterfly was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for butterfly

butterfly

noun

English Language Learners Definition of butterfly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a kind of insect that has a long thin body and brightly colored wings and that flies mostly during the day
often disapproving : a person who goes to many parties and other social events
: a way of swimming in which the swimmer's face is in the water and the arms move together in a circular motion while the legs kick up and down also : a race in which the swimmers do the butterfly

butterfly

verb

English Language Learners Definition of butterfly (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cut (food) into two pieces that are joined along one edge so that it can be spread apart for cooking

butterfly

noun
but·​ter·​fly | \ ˈbə-tər-ˌflī How to pronounce butterfly (audio) \
plural butterflies

Kids Definition of butterfly

: an insect that has a slender body and large colored wings covered with tiny overlapping scales and that flies mostly in the daytime

butterfly

noun
but·​ter·​fly | \ -ˌflī How to pronounce butterfly (audio) \
plural butterflies

Medical Definition of butterfly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1  plural : a feeling of hollowness or queasiness caused especially by emotional or nervous tension or anxious anticipation

butterfly

adjective

Medical Definition of butterfly (Entry 2 of 2)

: affecting the part of the face including the cheeks and the bridge of the nose the typical butterfly lesion of lupus erythematosus

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More from Merriam-Webster on butterfly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with butterfly

Spanish Central: Translation of butterfly

Nglish: Translation of butterfly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of butterfly for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about butterfly

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