- a cumulatively large effect that a very small natural force may produce over a period of time.
Origin of butterfly effect
First recorded in 1980–85; so called from the notion that the fluttering of a butterfly's wings may set off currents that will grow into a large storm
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- the idea, used in chaos theory, that a very small difference in the initial state of a physical system can make a significant difference to the state at some later time
C20: from the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world might ultimately cause a hurricane in another part of the world
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