• synonyms


[pap-uh-lon; French pa-pee-yawn]
noun, plural pap·il·lons [-lonz; French pa-pee-yawn] /-ˌlɒnz; French pa piˈyɔ̃/.
  1. one of a breed of toy spaniels having a long, silky coat and large, erect ears held so that they resemble the wings of a butterfly.
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Origin of papillon

1905–10; < French: butterfly < Latin pāpiliōn- (stem of pāpiliō)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for papillon

Historical Examples of papillon

  • Miss Papillon called on us yesterday, looking handsomer than ever.

    The Letters of Jane Austen

    Jane Austen

  • Bombo, the name of a dog, supposed by Papillon to be the name of a wood-engraver, 337 n.

  • Address it to Papillon (Eugene), driver, care of M. Trigault.

    Monsieur Lecoq, v.1

    Emile Gaboriau

  • The young detective was hastening away, when Papillon called him back.

    Monsieur Lecoq, v.1

    Emile Gaboriau

  • She adds to her gift the horse Papillon and his comrade Benoist.

    The Fairy Mythology

    Thomas Keightley

British Dictionary definitions for papillon


  1. a breed of toy spaniel with large ears
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Word Origin for papillon

French: butterfly, from Latin pāpiliō
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 papillon


1907, as a breed of dog, from French papillon, literally "butterfly," from Latin papilionem (nominative papilio) "butterfly," perhaps from a reduplicated form of PIE root *pal- "to touch, feel, shake."

The Latin word is cognate with Old English fifealde "butterfly," Old Saxon fifoldara, Old Norse fifrildi, Old High German vivaltra, German Falter. The dog so called for the shape of the ears.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper