Definition of gadfly
1 : any of various flies (such as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
2 : a person who stimulates or annoys other people especially by persistent criticism a political gadfly
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Examples of gadfly in a Sentence
a loud sports commentator who was a tactless gadfly during post-game interviews with the losing team
Recent Examples of gadfly from the Web
When the USA’s largest teachers’ union gathers in Boston this weekend for its annual business meeting, a longtime journalist and gadfly who has dutifully covered the gathering for nearly two decades won’t be there.
Already these new intellectuals on the left have begun to emerge as editors, authors, organizers, and gadflies in the new social media ecosystem.
Among those critics was Dan Coffey, who in recent years has emerged as a persistent City Hall gadfly against its major priorities.
Mr. Smith shows how correcting that lapse took a concerted, lengthy effort by a chain of previously unacquainted activists — a civilian gadfly, an E.P.A. whistle-blower, a concerned university professor — that seems almost miraculous in retrospect.
A Gadfly writer questions why U.S. banks should have an edge over European banks from deregulation.
On Wednesday Alex Jones, a right-wing gadfly who occupies one of the darker corners of the internet, settled a lawsuit filed by Chobani yogurt over odious falsehoods on Mr. Jones’s website Infowars.
Silicon Valley gadfly Vivek Wadhwa asserts that 80 to 90 percent of US jobs will be eliminated in the next 10 to 15 years.
And then there is Mike Cernovich, a gadfly who livestreams endless conspiracy theories and was recently touted by Kellyanne Conway.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gadfly'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The gadfly of Athens
The history of gadfly starts with gad, which now means "chisel" but which formerly could designate a spike, spear, or rod for goading cattle. Late in the 16th century, gad was joined with fly to designate any of several insects that aggravate livestock. Before too long, we began applying gadfly to people who annoy or provoke others. One of history's most famous gadflies was the philosopher Socrates, who was known for his constant questioning of his fellow Athenians' ethics, misconceptions, and assumptions. In his Apology, Plato describes Socrates' characterization of Athens as a large and sluggish horse and of Socrates himself as the fly that bites and rouses it. Many translations use gadfly in this portion of the Apology, and Socrates is sometimes referred to as the "gadfly of Athens."
GADFLY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of gadfly for English Language Learners
: someone who annoys people by being very critical
GADFLY Defined for Kids
Definition of gadfly for Students
1 : a large biting fly
2 : a person who annoys others especially with constant criticism
Medical Definition of gadfly
: any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
Seen and Heard
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