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

Kaleidoscope is a group of butterflies and also a pattern design! Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "These Taylor Swift TS7 Fan Theories Will Blow Your Mind," 29 Apr. 2019 The capsule features four slip dresses printed with original photographs of butterflies, the jungle, the ocean, and an erupting volcano by National Geographic photographers Stephen Alvarez, Frans Lanting, Bruce Omori, and Andy Mann. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "This New Sustainable Fashion Line Features Prints Made From National Geographic Photographs," 22 Apr. 2019 The mysterious cube, which traveled to Loot Lake and created the game’s floating islands, initiated another of Epic’s rare in-game events: this time, transporting players into a mystical realm full of ethereal butterflies. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The year in Fortnite," 18 Dec. 2018 In the office, another vintage cloche showcases dozens of pale blue butterflies painstakingly assembled by Steil. Bob Morris, ELLE Decor, "A Minimalist West Village Townhouse Is Given a Sensuous and Cerebral New Life," 23 Nov. 2018 NW Crescent Bend Nature Park: A 175-acre natural setting with more than 30 species of trees and wildflowers, also has more than 200 species of birds, and more than 30 species of butterflies. Mary Mills Heidbrink, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio offers multitude of choices for getting back to nature," 11 June 2018 Most designers stamped their denim with bold logos, but Sandy Liang opted for sweet butterflies instead—and made the case that guys should wear them, too (like Danny Bowien, pictured here in Liang’s lookbook). Madeline Fass, Vogue, "Revisit the Best Trends From Pre-Fall, Hitting Stores (and Streets!) Now," 2 May 2019 The butterflies lay their eggs on this particular plant, so the babies will have immediate access to food once hatched. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "This $15 Plant From Amazon Will Turn Your Backyard Into a Monarch Butterfly Paradise," 30 Apr. 2019 Once the excitement of the engagement died down, so did the butterflies. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Every Question You Have About Kristin Cavallari's Husband and Kids, Answered," 17 Mar. 2019

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

1952, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for butterfly

Last Updated

22 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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