Butterfly Definition

butterflied, butterflies, butterflying
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.
Webster's New World
A person, esp. a woman, thought of as flitting about like a butterfly and being frivolous, fickle, etc.
Webster's New World
A swimming stroke in which a swimmer lying face down draws both arms upward out of the water, thrusts them forward, and draws them back under the water in an hourglass design while performing a dolphin kick.
American Heritage
Webster's New World
A contest in which each contestant uses a butterfly stroke.
Webster's New World
To slice (a pork chop, shrimp, etc.) most of the way through and spread open before cooking.
Webster's New World
To cut almost entirely in half and spread the halves apart, in a shape suggesting the wings of a butterfly.
Butterflied shrimp.
Butterfly the chicken before you grill it.
To cut strips of surgical tape or plasters into thin strips, and place across a gaping wound to close it.
Resembling a butterfly, esp. in having parts that are spread out like wings.
Butterfly chair, butterfly table.
Webster's New World

Other Word Forms of Butterfly



Origin of Butterfly

  • Alternate etymology connects the first element to butere (“butter”), as the name may have originally been applied solely to butterflies of a yellowish color. This may have merged later with the belief that butterflies ate milk and butter (compare Middle High German molkendiep (“butterfly”, literally “milk-thief”); Modern German Molkendieb and Low German Botterlicker (“butterfly”, literally “butter-licker”)), or that they excreted a butter-like substance (compare Middle Dutch boterschijte (“butterfly”, literally “butter-shitter”)). Compare also Middle Dutch botervliege (“butterfly”) (Dutch botervlieg), German Butterfliege (“butterfly”). More at butter, fly.

    From Wiktionary

  • Middle English buterflie, butturflye, boterflye, from Old English butorflēoge, buttorflēoge, buterflēoge, perhaps a compound of butor- 'beater', mutation of bēatan 'to beat', and flēoge 'fly'. More at beat and fly.

    From Wiktionary

  • Middle English butterflye from Old English butorflēoge butor, butere butter butter flēoge fly fly2

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

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