butterfly

noun, often attributive
but·​ter·​fly | \ ˈbə-tər-ˌflī \

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

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 Getty Images Grab your butterfly hair clips, tie dye tee, and tiny tinted sunglasses, because all of your early 2000s, Disney Channel wishes are finally coming true. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Hilary Duff Seemingly Confirms that a 'Lizzie McGuire' Reboot Is Really Happening," 31 Dec. 2018 Imagine being chased through a Mad Max hellscape by immortal butterflies the size of elephants. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "What Will Be the Last Fish?," 10 Dec. 2018 Kylie dressed up with eight-month-old Stormi as pretty pink butterflies. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Just Revealed the Halloween Costume She Wore While Pregnant," 2 Nov. 2018 Zinnias are favorite nectar sources for hummingbirds and butterflies. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, "The plants that will attract fall hummingbirds, butterflies," 13 July 2018 Cheshire Cat: Champagne, orange bitters, butterfly pea extract, lemon juice. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Alice in Wonderland-themed bar Hatter and Hare now open in Phoenix," 12 July 2018 Chynna Walsh won the 100-yard butterfly and placed second in the 100 backstroke. *** Mountain Lakes captured its third straight Public C championship with a 112-58 win over Haddonfield. Mike Owens, Philly.com, "Saturday's S.J. roundup: Moorestown girls win state swimming title; Camden Catholic's Dominic Dunn reaches 1,000 career points," 24 Feb. 2018 Award for the most photographed guest, however, went to Buddy (the adorable dog of artist Philip-Lorca diCorcia) who, for the night, was more social butterfly than labradoodle. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "The David Zwirner Gallery Celebrates 25 Years With an Anniversary Bash," 15 Jan. 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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Statistics for butterfly

Last Updated

13 Feb 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 \
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 \
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

Comments on butterfly

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