butterfly

noun, often attributive
but·ter·fly | \-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

Cyclists should slow down to see the scenery and smell the flowers of the butterfly gardens along the trail. Katie Parsons, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Central Florida a premiere spot for triathlon training," 18 May 2018 Growers affix brown packets of pheromones or specialized attractants to the wires for when a certain butterfly shows up to lay eggs on the grape vines. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Indianapolis Star, "The Hoosier Gardener: Trip to Bordeaux wine country is an educational experience," 13 July 2018 Amidst the heaviness the Atlanta band occasionally left some space for Andy Hull’s fragile falsetto to soar, like a butterfly fluttering through a war zone. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Review: Arcade Fire burns hot enough to consume a few flaws at Summerfest," 9 July 2018 But this summer's oversize inflatable Instagram prop isn't a flamingo or a butterfly or a swan or even an ironic abstraction of a swan. Emily Wang, Teen Vogue, "This Bright Pink Coffin Pool Float Is Peak Summer 2018," 6 July 2018 Chiffchaffs and willow warblers sing in the sallow and alder, while every leaf seems to hold a butterfly or dragonfly or hoverfly. The Economist, "Brexit is reverberating in British literature," 5 July 2018 Dobi is a social butterfly that enjoys meeting new people and dogs. Peggy Calhoun, idahostatesman, "Ada County Pet of the Week: Dobi," 2 July 2018 Too many nonlinear, unconnected events. Kind of like a butterfly flapping its wings in Asia spawning a F5 tornado in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Ousted Rep. Joe Crowley the latest lawmaker 'supposed to be' House Speaker," 1 July 2018 The ivory matte terra-cotta slabs, shaped to resemble a butterfly or a bow tie, are made to reflect natural light and make the building interiors brighter. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, "Terra-Cotta Comes Back as a Luxury Home Material of Choice," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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

23 Oct 2018

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

: 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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Comments on butterfly

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exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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