Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.

EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB FOR BUTTERFLY

Who, except Cupid, would barter his liberty for a butterfly?

It was really only a paraphrase of the old story of the grub and the butterfly.

These men were as far removed from him as the crawling beetle is from the butterfly.

Who shall say, however, that the butterfly sees nothing but the flowers?

We see the acorn grow into the oak, the egg into the bird, the maggot into the butterfly.

He caught the fancy of the king, knelt down a grub, and rose a butterfly.

Yes, I fancy now that I saw him go to the 'Butterfly' with a coachman.

You felt the evening wouldn't be complete without that—after 'Butterfly'?

I have a butterfly net, and have caught some very pretty specimens.

The butterfly's motion is as irregular as any we have except the bat's.

WORD ORIGIN

Old English buttorfleoge, evidently butter (n.) + fly (n.), but of obscure signification. Perhaps based on the old notion that the insects (or witches disguised as butterflies) consume butter or milk that is left uncovered. Or, less creatively, simply because the pale yellow color of many species' wings suggests the color of butter. Another theory connects it to the color of the insect's excrement, based on Dutch cognate boterschijte. An overview of words for "butterfly" in various languages can be found here. Also see papillon.

Applied to persons from c.1600, originally in reference to vain and gaudy attire; by 1806 in reference to transformation from early lowly state; in reference to flitting tendencies by 1873. The swimming stroke so called from 1936. Butterflies "light stomach spasms caused by anxiety" is from 1908.

MORE RELATED WORDS FOR BUTTERFLY

Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.