• synonyms


noun, plural may·flies.
  1. Also called shadfly. any insect of the order Ephemeroptera, having delicate, membranous wings with the front pair much larger than the rear and having an aquatic larval stage and a terrestrial adult stage usually lasting less than two days.
  2. Also May fly. Angling. an artificial fly made to resemble this insect.
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Origin of mayfly

First recorded in 1645–55; May + fly2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mayfly

Historical Examples

  • For these articles the season is almost as brief as the season of the mayfly or the grannom.

    Social Origins and Primal Law

    Andrew Lang

  • First woman aviator to design and build her own machine, The Mayfly.

  • Mayfly, on the other hand, was rather skittish, and began prancing and capering as soon as he got off the road into the field.

    Ask Momma

    R. S. Surtees

  • Around it flutter some butterflies; on the right is a lizard, and on the left a Mayfly.

  • Ephemera, ef-em′er-a, n. the Mayfly, a genus of short-lived insects: that which lasts a short time.

British Dictionary definitions for mayfly


noun plural -flies
  1. Also called: dayfly any insect of the order Ephemeroptera (or Ephemerida). The short-lived adults, found near water, have long tail appendages and large transparent wings; the larvae are aquatic
  2. angling an artificial fly resembling this
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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