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[gad-flahy] /ˈgædˌflaɪ/
noun, plural gadflies.
any of various flies, as a stable fly or warble fly, that bite or annoy domestic animals.
a person who persistently annoys or provokes others with criticism, schemes, ideas, demands, requests, etc.
Origin of gadfly
First recorded in 1585-95; gad2 + fly2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gadfly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His efforts can only be compared with those of a gadfly or a mosquito.

    The Civilization Of China Herbert A. Giles
  • The gadfly uses a like forethought in selecting a place for her eggs.

    The Dawn of Reason James Weir
  • Some gadfly stings him: he seizes his tomahawk and is off on the trail.

    Obiter Dicta Augustine Birrell
  • "So it's the gadfly," thought Gemma, looking at him with some curiosity.

    The Gadfly E. L. Voynich
  • Presently he heard the gadfly move restlessly two or three times.

    The Gadfly E. L. Voynich
  • The gadfly was too much exhausted to wake easily when once asleep.

    The Gadfly E. L. Voynich
British Dictionary definitions for gadfly


noun (pl) -flies
any of various large dipterous flies, esp the horsefly, that annoy livestock by sucking their blood
a constantly irritating or harassing person
Word Origin
C16: from gad² (sting) + fly²
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
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Word Origin and History for gadfly

1620s, "fly which bites cattle," probably from gad (n.) "goad, metal rod," here in the sense of "stinger;" but the sense is entangled with gad (v.) and another early meaning of gadfly was "someone who likes to go about, often stopping here and there" (1610s). Sense of "one who irritates another" is from 1640s (equivalent of Latin oestrus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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