Definition of gadfly
1 : any of various flies (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
Did You Know?
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."
Origin and Etymology of gadfly
First Known Use: 1593
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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