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any of numerous diurnal insects of the order Lepidoptera, characterized by clubbed antennae, a slender body, and large, broad, often conspicuously marked wings.
a person who flits aimlessly from one interest or group to another:
a social butterfly.
butterflies, (used with a plural verb) Informal. a queasy feeling, as from nervousness, excitement, etc.
a racing breaststroke, using a dolphin kick, in which the swimmer brings both arms out of the water in forward, circular motions.
Carpentry. butterfly wedge.
Sculpture. an X -shaped support attached to an armature.
one of the swinging brackets of a butterfly table.
Movies. a screen of scrim, gauze, or similar material, for diffusing light.
Cookery. to slit open and spread apart to resemble the spread wings of a butterfly.
Cookery. split open and spread apart to resemble a butterfly:
butterfly shrimp; butterfly steak.
Contemporary Examples

Peter King Needs to See Our Movie Julian Schnabel, Harvey Weinstein March 11, 2011
Eyewitness in Gaza: an Egyptian Risks Death Beside the Palestinians Sarah A. Topol November 19, 2012
Julian Schnabel Gets Political Blake Gopnik March 13, 2011
Whole Foods’ Anti-GMO Swindle Michael Schulson September 14, 2014
Religious Sex-Toy Sites Vow to Save Marriages Allison Yarrow December 29, 2011

Historical Examples

The Red Conspiracy Joseph J. Mereto
The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
Fairy Tales from the German Forests Margaret Arndt
Roden’s Corner Henry Seton Merriman
Ancient Man in Britain Donald A. (Donald Alexander) Mackenzie

noun (pl) -flies
any diurnal insect of the order Lepidoptera that has a slender body with clubbed antennae and typically rests with the wings (which are often brightly coloured) closed over the back Compare moth related adjective lepidopteran
a person who never settles with one group, interest, or occupation for long
a swimming stroke in which the arms are plunged forward together in large circular movements
(commerce) the simultaneous purchase and sale of traded call options, at different exercise prices or with different expiry dates, on a stock exchange or commodity market

The butterfly effect is a deceptively simple insight extracted from a complex modern field. As a low-profile assistant professor in MIT’s department of meteorology in 1961, [Edward] Lorenz created an early computer program to simulate weather. One day he changed one of a dozen numbers representing atmospheric conditions, from .506127 to .506. That tiny alteration utterly transformed his long-term forecast, a point Lorenz amplified in his 1972 paper, “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” [Peter Dizikes, “The Meaning of the Butterfly,” The Boston Globe, June 8, 2008]


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    a conical net of fine mesh held open by a round rim to which a long handle is attached, used for collecting butterflies and other insects. Historical Examples Kisington Town Abbie Farwell Brown ‘That Very Mab’ May Kendall and Andrew Lang Rosinante to the Road Again John Dos Passos Soldier Stories Rudyard Kipling ‘That Very […]

  • Butterflyfish

    any tropical marine fish of the family Chaetodontidae, having large, broad fins or brilliant coloration, or both. flying gurnard. a blenny, Blennius ocellaris, of Europe. noun any small tropical marine percoid fish of the genera Chaetodon, Chelmon, etc, that has a deep flattened brightly coloured or strikingly marked body and brushlike teeth: family Chaetodontidae See […]

  • Butter-knife

    a small knife with a dull blade, for cutting, serving, or spreading butter. Historical Examples Prudy Keeping House Sophie May The Scrap Book, Volume 1, No. 6 Various Fernley House Laura E. Richards A Treatise on Domestic Economy Catherine Esther Beecher Our Deportment John H. Young The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness […]

  • Buttermilk

    the more or less acidulous liquid remaining after butter has been separated from milk or cream. a similar liquid made from whole or skim milk with the addition of a bacterial culture. Contemporary Examples Valentine’s Day Cocktail Recipes to Fall in Love With Alie Ward, Georgia Hardstark February 8, 2011 Cat Cora’s Valentine’s Day Menu […]

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