gadfly

play
noun gad·fly \ˈgad-ˌflī\

Definition of gadfly

  1. 1 :  any of various flies (such as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock

  2. 2 :  a person who stimulates or annoys other people especially by persistent criticism a political gadfly

gadfly was our Word of the Day on 11/08/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of gadfly in a Sentence

  1. a loud sports commentator who was a tactless gadfly during post-game interviews with the losing team

Recent Examples of gadfly from the Web

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."

Origin and Etymology of gadfly

1gad + 4fly

Other Insect Terms


GADFLY Defined for English Language Learners

gadfly

play
noun

Definition of gadfly for English Language Learners

  • : someone who annoys people by being very critical


GADFLY Defined for Kids

gadfly

play
noun gad·fly \ˈgad-ˌflī\

Definition of gadfly for Students

plural

gadflies

  1. 1 :  a large biting fly

  2. 2 :  a person who annoys others especially with constant criticism


Medical Dictionary

gadfly

play
noun gad·fly \ˈgad-ˌflī\

Medical Definition of gadfly

plural

gadflies

  1. :  any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock



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