WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2019
but•ter•fly /ˈbʌtɚˌflaɪ/USA pronunciation   n.[countable]pl.  -flies. 
  1. Insectsa flying insect that has a slender body and broad wings.
  2. one who wanders aimlessly from one interest to another: a social butterfly.
  3. Informal Termsbutterflies, [plural] Informal. a nervous feeling, as from anxiety:The butterflies vanish once I start my talk.
  4. Sporta racing breaststroke in which the swimmer brings both arms out of the water in forward, circular motions and kicks the legs up and down together.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2019
but•ter•fly  (butər flī′),USA pronunciation n., pl.  -flies, v.,  -flied, -fly•ing, adj. 
  1. Insectsany of numerous diurnal insects of the order Lepidoptera, characterized by clubbed antennae, a slender body, and large, broad, often conspicuously marked wings.
  2. a person who flits aimlessly from one interest or group to another:a social butterfly.
  3. Informal Termsbutterflies, (used with a pl. v.)a queasy feeling, as from nervousness, excitement, etc.
  4. Sporta racing breaststroke, using a dolphin kick, in which the swimmer brings both arms out of the water in forward, circular motions.
  5. Building[Carpentry.]See  butterfly wedge. 
  6. Fine Art[Sculpture.]anX-shaped support attached to an armature.
  7. Furnitureone of the swinging brackets of a butterfly table.
  8. Cinema, Show Business[Motion Pictures.]a screen of scrim, gauze, or similar material, for diffusing light.

  1. Food[Cookery.]to slit open and spread apart to resemble the spread wings of a butterfly.

adj. Also,  butterflied. 
  1. Food[Cookery.]split open and spread apart to resemble a butterfly:butterfly shrimp; butterfly steak.
butter•fly′like, adj., adv. 
  • Middle English boterflye, Old English buttorflēoge. See butter, fly2 bef. 1000

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

butterfly /ˈbʌtəˌflaɪ/ n ( pl -flies)
  1. any diurnal insect of the order Lepidoptera that has a slender body with clubbed antennae and typically rests with the wings (which are often brightly coloured) closed over the back
    Compare moth
  2. a person who never settles with one group, interest, or occupation for long
  3. a swimming stroke in which the arms are plunged forward together in large circular movements
  4. the simultaneous purchase and sale of traded call options, at different exercise prices or with different expiry dates, on a stock exchange or commodity market
Etymology: Old English buttorflēoge; the name perhaps is based on a belief that butterflies stole milk and butter

'butterfly' also found in these entries:
Collocations: butterfly the [steak, chicken, shrimp], [monarch, swallowtail] butterflies, a butterfly [habitat, sanctuary, garden], more...

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