Definition of butterfly in English:

butterfly

Line breaks: butter|fly
Pronunciation: /ˈbʌtəflʌɪ
 
/

noun (plural butterflies)

  • 1A nectar-feeding insect with two pairs of large, typically brightly coloured wings that are covered with microscopic scales. Butterflies are distinguished from moths by having clubbed or dilated antennae, holding their wings erect when at rest, and being active by day.
    • Superfamilies Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea, order Lepidoptera: several families. Formerly placed in a grouping known as the Rhopalocera
    More example sentences
    • The Peaks are also a stronghold for the striking green hairstreak butterfly and the emperor moth, which feeds on heather.
    • In the windows passers-by will see a plethora of wildlife, including butterflies, insects and moths, which have lived in the building at one point in its history.
    • This is a bacteria that is only harmful to Lepidoptera - butterflies and moths.
  • 1.1 [as modifier] Having a two-lobed shape resembling the spread wings of a butterfly: a butterfly clip
    More example sentences
    • When you stand and look down at the seed bed you see butterfly shapes strung along a black pipe, for the water has gently washed the ground into four linked circles at each irrigation point.
    • All the bauhinias have two-lobed butterfly leaves.
    • Tina Hyland was wearing butterfly clips in her hair.
  • 1.2A showy or frivolous person: a social butterfly
    More example sentences
    • Are you kind of a social butterfly, do you think?
    • I not a social butterfly per se, but I like to go out.
    • I always had friends, but I was never a social butterfly.
  • 1.3 (butterflies) • informal A fluttering and nauseous sensation felt in the stomach when one is nervous.
    More example sentences
    • Nervous butterflies fluttered in her stomach every time a messenger or lower official left Orwell's tent for fear that it might be Smith.
    • Marie shook her head; trying to ward off the butterflies fluttering nervously about in her stomach.
    • I'm not yet a good driver, nor a completely confident one but at least the idea of doing it no longer sets butterflies fluttering in my stomach.
  • 2A stroke in swimming in which both arms are raised out of the water and lifted forwards together.
    More example sentences
    • Her only weak stroke was the butterfly, and this stood in the way of her improving in the IM events.
    • She is also the only woman to have won golds in three different strokes - freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
    • Performing drills that focus on breathing, timing and acceleration can help a swimmer grasp the finer points of swimming butterfly.

verb (butterflies, butterflying, butterflied)

[with object] Back to top  
  • Split (a piece of meat or fish) almost in two and spread it out flat: (as adjective butterflied) butterflied shrimp
    More example sentences
    • We decided to go with the 12-pounder and the man cut its head off, cut its tail off, shaved off the scales, butterflied it and deboned it.
    • So I butterflied it - yielding two pieces that were about 1/2 an inch thick.
    • Go to your local butcher and ask for two tenderloin steaks to be butterflied to about a one centimetre thickness.

Origin

Old English, from butter + fly2; perhaps from the cream or yellow colour of common species, or from an old belief that the insects stole butter.

More definitions of butterfly

Definition of butterfly in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
noun
a slit made by cutting with a saw