butterfly effect


Definition of butterfly effect

: a property of chaotic systems (such as the atmosphere) by which small changes in initial conditions can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the future state of the system

Examples of butterfly effect in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The rise of the internet from the late 1990s has played a crucial role in how music is consumed globally, setting up a butterfly effect that inadvertently affects how musicians and artists are compensated and paid. Tony M Fountain, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 There are so many levels to the butterfly effect of this pandemic—not just the sickness but the emotional and mental effects. Liam Hess, Vogue, 13 Aug. 2021 As unintended consequences go, the anthological format offered examples of the butterfly effect via new stories each month, sometimes clever and others far-fetched. Roy Schwartz, CNN, 11 Aug. 2021 In popular culture, it's best known as the butterfly effect. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 13 May 2021 Unlike a Hollywood script where the butterfly effect takes cascading events and neatly organizes them, real life is less precise and messy. Rod Berger, Forbes, 4 May 2021 What would the butterfly effect be of wearing two different socks for a day, or brushing your teeth with the opposite hand? Melissa Kirsch, New York Times, 22 Jan. 2021 Steve Ragan, a researcher at the internet company Akamai, told WIRED that password-sharing often has a butterfly effect: For example, a friend who has your Netflix password might log into your account from another computer, and forget to sign out. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, 16 Mar. 2021 Call it the butterfly effect, as applied to fiscal spending. Fortune, 5 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'butterfly effect.' 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 effect

1976, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of butterfly effect was in 1976

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butterfly dolphin

butterfly effect


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Last Updated

17 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Butterfly effect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/butterfly%20effect. Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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