Pronunciation: (but'ur-flī"), [key]
—n., pl. -flies,
—v., -flied, -fly•ing,
1. any 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. butterflies, (used with a pl. v.) Informal.a queasy feeling, as from nervousness, excitement, etc.
4. a racing breaststroke, using a dolphin kick, in which the swimmer brings both arms out of the water in forward, circular motions.
5. Carpentry.See butterfly wedge.
6. Sculpture.an X-shaped support attached to an armature.
7. one of the swinging brackets of a butterfly table.
8. Motion Pictures.a screen of scrim, gauze, or similar material, for diffusing light.
Cookery.to slit open and spread apart to resemble the spread wings of a butterfly.
Cookery.split open and spread apart to resemble a butterfly: butterfly shrimp; butterfly steak.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.