- any of various families of lepidopteran insects active in the daytime, having a sucking mouthpart, slender body, ropelike, knobbed antennae, and four broad, usually brightly colored, membranous wings
- a person, esp. a woman, thought of as flitting about like a butterfly and being frivolous, fickle, etc.
- butterfly stroke
- a contest in which each contestant uses a butterfly stroke
- [pl.] an uneasy feeling, as in the abdomen, caused esp. by nervous anticipationalso butterflies in one's stomach
Origin of butterflyMiddle English buterflie from Old English buttorfleoge (see butter and fly): in folklore, it is thought to steal milk or butter
transitive verb-·flied·, -·fly·ing
Origin of butterflyfrom the resemblance of the cut and flattened piece to the outline of the insect