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 In some cases, strong coloration is used by some species of butterflies to defer predators. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "The World’s Most Interesting Insects," 29 Apr. 2020 Remember the primary reason for the milkweed to be in your garden is to serve the needs of the butterflies. Calvin Finch, ExpressNews.com, "Calvin Finch: The insect pests invading San Antonio gardens and how to stop them," 2 Apr. 2020 Rosenqvist went to bed Friday with a small dose of butterflies – the nerves ahead of the prospect of a win of any kind catching the 28-yaer-old Chip Ganassi Racing driver by surprise. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Sage Karam drives away from field in IndyCar's first iRacing Challenge event from pole," 28 Mar. 2020 One day last summer, Jake Fiennes was lost in a cloud of butterflies. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Can Farming Make Space for Nature?," 10 Feb. 2020 There’s nothing quite like the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, when feelings of butterflies are omnipresent whenever your person is by your side. Rachel Besser, Vogue, "13 Sweet But Practical Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your Special Someone," 31 Jan. 2020 Creating a Pollinator Garden A pollinator garden is a garden that is planted predominately with flowers that provide nectar or pollen for a range of pollinating insects (bees, butterflies, etc.). Trace Barnett, al, "Expert tips for creating a pollinator garden at home," 28 Apr. 2020 In his only individual title, Khouzam broke another state mark with a 47.01 in the 100-yard butterfly. Shelby Dermer, Cincinnati.com, "Announcing the 2019-20 Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky High School Winter All-Stars," 22 Apr. 2020 Katie Drabot took the bronze medal in the 200-meter butterfly Saturday at the FINA World Championships in South Korea. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "This former Cedarburg star took bronze at the World Swimming Championships in South Korea," 29 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb How to butterfly a steak Lay the flank steak flat on a cutting board. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Beef and Asparagus Negimaki," 10 Apr. 2020 To butterfly a large chicken breast half, put it on a cutting board with the thickest portion facing your sharp knife. Jeanmarie Brownson, chicagotribune.com, "Weeknight chicken challenge met with a hot griddle and fast recipes," 11 Sep. 2019 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.

See More

First Known Use of butterfly

Noun

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

Verb

1952, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about butterfly

Time Traveler for butterfly

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for butterfly

Last Updated

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Butterfly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/butterfly. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for butterfly

butterfly

noun
How to pronounce butterfly (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up butterfly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!