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 Easily mold spritz butter cookies in the shape of butterflies, snowflakes, flowers, shells, and more by filling the clear cylinder with dough, choosing a metal disk design, and pushing down on the lever. Popular Science, "Gear that will help you win a cookie contest," 2 Jan. 2020 But that seems unlikely, given the diversity of images: butterflies, leopards, fences, mountains, trees, leaves, rocks, sidewalks, windows, staircases, pencils, and more. Sharon Begley, STAT, "Scientists show mice an Orson Welles movie, then disprove dogma about how vision works," 16 Dec. 2019 But as Brewer looks up, Lee will look down to that cleat, look down to that butterfly, and know that Madelyn is looking down on him. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "'She'll always be there': Cardinals punter Andy Lee honors late daughter with cleats," 6 Dec. 2019 Meet the relatives: Some pets are social butterflies, others not so much. Author: Steve Dale, Anchorage Daily News, "Follow these tips for a pet-safe holiday season," 26 Nov. 2019 In March, the snakes started to morph into butterflies, the vampire color palette into Easter pastels. Abby Aguirre, Vogue, "Taylor Swift on Sexism, Scrutiny, and Standing Up for Herself," 8 Aug. 2019 After the butterflies arrived at their destination in southwestern Mexico, volunteers there searched for the tags. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Mysterious monarch migrations may be triggered by the angle of the Sun," 18 Dec. 2019 But the point of Nike’s new line, said John Hoke, Nike’s chief design officer, isn’t to win the two-hundred-metre butterfly at regionals. Christina Binkley, The New Yorker, "Nike Takes the Plunge Into Modest Swimwear," 9 Dec. 2019 At Minnesota, Texas freshman Kelly Pash won the 200 butterfly in 1:54.54, fifth in the NCAA this season and 16th on the all-time U.S. 17-18 list. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Olympics Insider: Swimmers Drew Kibler, Zach Apple on track to Tokyo," 8 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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.

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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

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Butterfly.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/butterfly. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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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

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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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