Definition of gadfly in English:


Line breaks: gad¦fly
Pronunciation: /ˈɡadflʌɪ

noun (plural gadflies)

1A fly that bites livestock, especially a horsefly, warble fly, or botfly.
More example sentences
  • Later, Hera sent the notorious gadfly to continuously bite and irritate Io.
  • She was tormented by a furious little gadfly that bit her mercilessly, though she flicked her tail this way and that.
  • Zeus had once tried to seduce the lovely Io, but Hera, his jealous wife, had discovered her husband's intentions and turned poor Io into a cow, left to wander about the earth, constantly pursued and tormented by a pestilent gadfly.
1.1A person who annoys or criticizes others in order to provoke them into action: always a gadfly, he attacked intellectual orthodoxies
More example sentences
  • But he admits he is curious: what has the liberal gadfly done to annoy so many conservatives like him?
  • The gadfly soon became an annoyance to both the MTA and the union, creating a newsletter which aired workers' grievances but criticised alleged union inaction.
  • I have always considered him sort of a Socratic gadfly.


late 16th century: from gad1, or obsolete gad 'goad, spike', from Old Norse gaddr, of Germanic origin; related to yard1.

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