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EnglishEdit

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A butterfly.
 
A brimstone butterfly. The word butterfly may have its origins in the name of yellow (or cream-coloured) butterflies such as this.

EtymologyEdit

From Middle English buterflie, butturflye, boterflye, from Old English butorflēoge, buttorflēoge, buterflēoge. Cognate with Dutch botervlieg, German Butterfliege (butterfly). Compare also German Low German bottervōgel (butterfly, literally butter-fowl).

Perhaps a compound of butor- (beater), mutation of bēatan (to beat), and flēoge (fly).[1] More at beat and fly.

Alternate etymology connects the first element to butere (butter), as the name may have originally been applied solely to butterflies of a yellowish color. This may have merged later with the belief that butterflies ate milk and butter (compare: German Molkendieb and Low German Botterlicker (butterfly, literally butter-licker)), or that they excreted a butter-like substance (compare: Dutch boterschijte (butterfly, literally butter-shitter)). More at butter, fly.

PronunciationEdit

NounEdit

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.]
  2. (now rare) Someone seen as being unserious and (originally) dressed gaudily; someone flighty and unreliable. [from 17th c.]
    • 1897, Henry James, What Maisie Knew:
      The day came indeed when her breathless auditors learnt from her in bewilderment that what ailed him was that he was, alas, simply not serious. Maisie wept on Mrs. Wix's bosom after hearing that Sir Claude was a butterfly [...].
  3. The butterfly stroke. [from 20th c.]
  4. A use of surgical tape, cut into thin strips and placed across an open wound to hold it closed.
    butterfly tape

SynonymsEdit

Derived termsEdit

TranslationsEdit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

VerbEdit

butterfly (third-person singular simple present butterflies, present participle butterflying, simple past and past participle butterflied)

  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.
    • 2006, Paul Garber, Newton's Force (page 256)
      After everyone had obeyed his commands, the lieutenant motioned for two medics that now appeared to enter the room and attend to Dr. Carter. They bandaged him up, butterflying some of the deeper gashes and gave him a couple of shots.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Donald A. Ringe, A Linguistic History of English: From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic (Oxford: Oxford, 2003), 232.

AnagramsEdit


DanishEdit

NounEdit

butterfly c (singular definite butterflyen, plural indefinite butterfly)

  1. bowtie

InflectionEdit