• IPA: /ˈbʌtə(ɹ)flaɪ/
    • (America, CA) IPA: [ˈbʌɾɚflaɪ]
    • (British) IPA: [ˈbʌtəflaɪ]

butterfly (plural butterflies)

  1. A flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, distinguished from moths by their diurnal activity and generally brighter colouring. [from 11th c.]
    • 1936, D[avid] H[erbert] Lawrence, “[Autobiographical Fragment]”, in Edward D[avid] McDonald, editor, Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers of D. H. Lawrence, London: William Heinemann Ltd., OCLC 906447154 ↗, page 836 ↗:
      It is true. I am like a butterfly, and I shall only live a little while.
  2. A use of surgical tape, cut into thin strips and placed across an open wound to hold it closed.
    butterfly tape
  3. (swimming) The butterfly stroke. [from 20th c.]
  4. (in plural) A sensation of excited anxiety felt in the stomach.
    I get terrible butterflies before an exam.
  5. (now, rare) Someone seen as being unserious and (originally) dress#Verb|dressed gaudily; someone flighty and unreliable. [from 17th c.]
Synonyms Translations Verb


  1. (transitive) To cut (food) almost entirely in half and spread the halves apart, in a shape suggesting the wings of a butterfly.
    butterflied shrimp
    Butterfly the chicken before you grill it.
  2. (transitive) To cut strips of surgical tape or plasters into thin strips, and place across (a gaping wound) to close it.

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