[ buht-er-flahy ]
See synonyms for: butterflybutterfliedbutterfliesbutterflying on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural but·ter·flies.
  1. any of numerous diurnal insects of the order Lepidoptera, characterized by clubbed antennae, a slender body, and large, broad, often conspicuously marked wings.

  2. a person who flits aimlessly from one interest or group to another: a social butterfly.

  1. butterflies, (used with a plural verb)Informal. a queasy feeling, as from nervousness, excitement, etc.

  2. a racing breaststroke, using a dolphin kick, in which the swimmer brings both arms out of the water in forward, circular motions.

  3. Carpentry. butterfly wedge.

  4. Sculpture. an X-shaped support attached to an armature.

  5. one of the swinging brackets of a butterfly table.

  6. Movies. a screen of scrim, gauze, or similar material, for diffusing light.

verb (used with object),but·ter·flied, but·ter·fly·ing.
  1. Cooking. to slit open and spread apart to resemble the spread wings of a butterfly.

adjectiveAlso butterflied.
  1. Cooking. split open and spread apart to resemble a butterfly: butterfly shrimp; butterfly steak.

Origin of butterfly

before 1000; Middle English boterflye,Old English buttorflēoge.See butter, fly1

Other words from butterfly

  • but·ter·fly·like, adjective, adverb

Words Nearby butterfly

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use butterfly in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for butterfly


/ (ˈbʌtəˌflaɪ) /

nounplural -flies
  1. 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

  2. a person who never settles with one group, interest, or occupation for long

  1. a swimming stroke in which the arms are plunged forward together in large circular movements

  2. 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

Origin of butterfly

Old English buttorflēoge; the name perhaps is based on a belief that butterflies stole milk and butter

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