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dragonfly

[drag-uh n-flahy]
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noun, plural drag·on·flies.
  1. any of numerous stout-bodied, nonstinging insects of the order Odonata (suborder Anisoptera), the species of which prey on mosquitoes and other insects and are distinguished from the damselflies by having the wings outstretched rather than folded when at rest.
  2. (initial capital letter) Military. a two-seat, twin-turbojet U.S. attack aircraft in service since 1967, armed with a Minigun and capable of carrying nearly 5700 pounds (2585 kg) of ordnance.
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Origin of dragonfly

First recorded in 1620–30; dragon + fly2

Regional variation note

1. the dragonfly is also called a darning needle and a devil's darning needle in the Northern and Western U.S. In the Northern U.S. it is also called a sewing needle. In the Midland U.S. it is called a snake feeder, in the South Midland and Southern U.S. a snake doctor, and in the Southern U.S., especially in the Southern Coastal areas, it is called a mosquito hawk or a skeeter hawk. Spindle is also in use, chiefly in New Jersey and in the Delaware Valley. Ear sewer is in older use in some scattered regional areas.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dragonfly

Historical Examples

  • I saw my first dragonfly that day, and tried to catch him in my cap, but he evaded me.

    Recollections

    David Christie Murray

  • Dragonfly was on the ground in front of me and he yelled up and said "What's the matter?"

  • This is what we all said though: Dragonfly said, "Good morning, Mr. Black!"

  • Before we could get there, Dragonfly said excitedly, "It's Mr. Black's diary!"

  • I expect he may turn into a dragonfly, or maybe some kind of beetle or other.

    Jack in the Rockies

    George Bird Grinnell


British Dictionary definitions for dragonfly

dragonfly

noun plural -flies
  1. any predatory insect of the suborder Anisoptera, having a large head and eyes, a long slender body, two pairs of iridescent wings that are outspread at rest, and aquatic larvae: order OdonataSee also damselfly
  2. any other insect of the order Odonata
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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 dragonfly

n.

1620s, from dragon + fly (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper