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

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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 Lorenz’s metaphor, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil could ultimately lead a tornado in Texas that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Nikolai Sinitsyn, Scientific American, "The Quantum Butterfly Noneffect," 21 Sep. 2020 An alternate timeline caused by a mix-up in the space-time continuum due to a butterfly flapping its wings incorrectly one time. Lauren Le Vine, refinery29.com, "The One Thing I Watched That Made 2020 Slightly Better," 28 Dec. 2020 Davie’s Steven Wain said seeing the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is better than his own fitness transformation. Gary Curreri, sun-sentinel.com, "South Floridians finalists for national award celebrating fitness journeys," 8 Oct. 2020 While Wharton wasn't surprised by Carter's friendship with Nelson, she was intrigued to learn that Bob Dylan and Carter also have a long friendship, since Dylan isn't exactly known for being a social butterfly. Breeanna Hare, CNN, "'Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President': 12 songs to listen to next," 2 Jan. 2021 With the expansion of the school building, our butterfly garden had to be shut down and remnants of it were later moved. Mort Mazor, sun-sentinel.com, "Retired principal has plans for butterfly garden," 24 Dec. 2020 Devin is a social butterfly and is able to engage friends and adults in conversation. oregonlive, "Devin is hoping for a family that loves outdoor activities, soccer and Spiderman: A Home of Their Own," 29 Nov. 2020 The relatively new Green Team hopes in the near future to offer a milkweed seed sale and create a butterfly garden at the Madison Avenue school, as well as one day provide outgoing high school seniors with tree saplings. John Benson, cleveland, "Lakewood’s Green Team providing each kindergartener with donated tree sapling," 28 Oct. 2020 Sullivan’s project, other Cochran Heights residents are working with the city on plans to add a butterfly garden in Cochran Park and to improve the park’s tennis courts and overall maintenance. Mary Jacobs, Dallas News, "From eyesore to ‘ahh’: Dallas neighbors transform an ugly alley into a pleasant space," 28 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In another week or so, the pupa inside completes its metamorphosis to butterfly, emerging in search of food and a mate. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "How to Attract and Raise Butterflies at Home," 8 June 2020 His son Bryan Babcock took over in the early 1980s and remains at the helm like a mad scientist of sorts, exploring everything from new trellising systems and psychedelic-pink pet nats to butterfly sanctuaries and new oak tree habitats. Matt Kettmann, SFChronicle.com, "Babcock Winery straddles deep history and imagined future," 23 June 2020 Despite its legendary sharp teeth, black piranha is a meaty fish that’s usually caught by hand line and prepared by carefully butterflying and roasting over a fire. National Geographic, "Gordon Ramsay Voyages Deep Into the Rainforest of Guyana," 20 May 2020 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

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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Time Traveler for butterfly

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for butterfly

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Butterfly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/butterfly. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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

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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