• synonyms


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.
Show More

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


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
Show More

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


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."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper