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fritillary

[frit-l-er-ee]
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noun, plural frit·il·lar·ies.
  1. any of several orange-brown nymphalid butterflies, usually marked with black lines and dots and with silvery spots on the undersides of the wings.
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Origin of fritillary

From New Latin, dating back to 1625–35; see origin at fritillaria
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fritillary

Historical Examples

  • All the little woods and copses by the road side abounded with Butterflies of the Fritillary tribe, without silver spots.

    Lachesis Lapponica

    Carl von Linn

  • A small Papilio, of the fritillary tribe, with one silver mark underneath of the form of a shield.

    Lachesis Lapponica

    Carl von Linn

  • The Latin name for a dice-box has survived in the fritillary butterfly and flower.

  • Fritillary, frit′il-lar-i, n. a genus of plants of the order Liliace, with drooping purple flowers: a species of butterfly.

  • The Danaid is a low-country insect, while the Fritillary is not found until several thousand feet up.

    Mimicry in Butterflies

    Reginald Crundall Punnett


British Dictionary definitions for fritillary

fritillary

noun plural -laries
  1. any N temperate liliaceous plant of the genus Fritillaria, having purple or white drooping bell-shaped flowers, typically marked in a chequered patternSee also snake's head
  2. any of various nymphalid butterflies of the genera Argynnis, Boloria, etc, having brownish wings chequered with black and silver
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Word Origin

C17: from New Latin fritillāria, from Latin fritillus dice box; probably with reference to the spotted markings
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fritillary

n.

type of butterfly, 1857, earlier a type of plant (Fritillaria Meleagris, 1633), from Latin fritillus "dice-box," from fritinnire "to twitter," imitative of the rattle of dice. The butterfly so called perhaps from resemblance of its markings to those of dice; or the names may have been given in confusion, perhaps on the notion that fritillus meant "chessboard."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper