butterfly


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Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

A rhetorical question referring to an excessive amount of force that has been applied to achieve something minor, unimportant, or insignificant. The line is a quotation from Alexander Pope's poem "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot." To "break upon a wheel" refers to a mode of torture, in which a victim has their bones broken while strapped to a large wheel. The government's use of drone strikes and artillery bombing on the town to wipe out a tiny faction of rebels is totally unjustifiable—who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
See also: break, butterfly, upon, who

break a butterfly on a wheel

To apply an excessive amount of force to achieve something minor, unimportant, or insignificant. The phrase appears in the rhetorical question, "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" The line is a quotation from Alexander Pope's poem "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot." To "break upon a wheel" refers to a mode of torture, in which a victim has their bones broken while strapped to a large wheel. The government's use of drone strikes and artillery bombing on the town to wipe out a tiny faction of rebels is totally unjustifiable—who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
See also: break, butterfly, on, wheel

butterflies in (one's) stomach

A feeling of nervousness. The butterflies in my stomach almost kept me from going on stage and performing.
See also: butterfly, stomach

have butterflies in (one's) stomach

To have a feeling of nervousness, often before a performance or undertaking of some kind. I almost didn't go on stage and perform tonight because I had butterflies in my stomach.
See also: butterfly, have, stomach

be breaking a butterfly on a wheel

To be applying an excessive amount of force to achieve something minor, unimportant, or insignificant. The phrase appears in the rhetorical question, "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" The line is a quotation from Alexander Pope's poem "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot." To "break upon a wheel" refers to a mode of torture, in which a victim has their bones broken while strapped to a large wheel. Primarily heard in UK. The government's use of drone strikes and artillery bombing on the town to wipe out a tiny faction of rebels is totally unjustifiable—they're breaking a butterfly upon a wheel.
See also: breaking, butterfly, on, wheel

get butterflies in (one's) stomach

To have a feeling of nervousness, often before a performance or undertaking of some kind. I always get butterflies in my stomach before I go on stage and perform.
See also: butterfly, get, stomach

the butterfly effect

The idea that a small change, action, or event can cause much larger one elsewhere or in the future through a chain reaction. An allusion to chaos theory, popularized by the notion that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world might cause a tornado many miles away. It was basically the butterfly effect that led me to this life: My haphazard decision to study Irish literature in college in Canada led me to do a master's degree in Dublin, which led me to an internship for an Irish publisher, which led me to be friends with a co-worker there, who introduced me to the woman who would eventually be my wife. The government's decision to deregulate the market created a butterfly effect that eventually produced the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression.
See also: butterfly, effect

*butterflies in one's stomach

a nervous feeling in one's stomach. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone~.) Whenever I have to speak in public, I get butterflies in my stomach. She always has butterflies in her stomach before a test. It was not frightening enough to give me butterflies in my stomach, but it made me a little apprehensive.
See also: butterfly, stomach

*gaudy as a butterfly

fancy; colorful. (*Also: as ~.) Marie looked as gaudy as a butterfly in her new dress. Michael's scarf is gaudy as a butterfly.
See also: butterfly

butterflies in one's stomach

Fluttering sensations caused by a feeling of nervous anticipation. For example, I always get butterflies in my stomach before making a speech. This term likens a nervous feeling to that resulting from swallowing live butterflies that fly about inside one. [c. 1900]
See also: butterfly, stomach

butterflies in your stomach

If you have butterflies in your stomach, you feel very nervous about something that you have to do. He seemed so full of enthusiasm that I felt foolish still having butterflies in my stomach. Now I can go there as a competitor, I'm starting to feel the butterflies in my stomach already. Note: Butterflies is also used in many other structures and expressions with a similar meaning. Any jockey who says he doesn't get butterflies down at the start is telling lies. Carol felt butterflies tumbling in her guts.
See also: butterfly, stomach

be breaking a butterfly on a wheel

BRITISH, LITERARY
If you say that someone is breaking a butterfly on a wheel, you mean that they are using far more force than is necessary to do something. The Huglets have had their ideology combed over, examined, misinterpreted and rewritten. Talk about breaking a butterfly on a wheel. Note: This is a quotation from `Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot' (1735) by Alexander Pope. In the past, the wheel was an instrument of torture. A person was tied to it and then their arms and legs were broken or they were beaten to death. Compare with a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
See also: breaking, butterfly, on, wheel

break a butterfly on a wheel

use unnecessary force in destroying something fragile or insignificant.
In former times, breaking someone upon the wheel was a form of punishment or torture which involved fastening criminals to a wheel so that their bones would be broken or dislocated.
1998 Times But why break a butterfly upon a wheel? What harm does the Liberal Democrat leader do? Unfortunately he may be about to do a great deal.
See also: break, butterfly, on, wheel

the butterfly effect

the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.
The expression comes from chaos theory. In 1979 , Edward N. Lorenz gave a paper to the American Association for the Advancement of Science entitled ‘Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?’
See also: butterfly, effect

have butterflies in your stomach

have a queasy feeling because you are nervous. informal
See also: butterfly, have, stomach

get/have ˈbutterflies (in your stomach)

(informal) get/have a nervous feeling in your stomach before doing something: I always get butterflies (in my stomach) before an interview.
See also: butterfly, get, have

social butterfly

A person who flits from event to event without a care in the world. This derogatory phrase is usually but not always applied to women who “live to party.” Going from one dinner party or ball or benefit to another, they are preoccupied with being the height of fashion and popularity. According to one wonderfully descriptive characterization, a social butterfly has a “brow unfurrowed by care or thought."
See also: butterfly, social
References in periodicals archive ?
The discovery of these eggs is hugely significant as it not only confirms the white-letter hairstreak is breeding here, but one of the eggs was an old, hatched shell - so it looks like the butterfly could have been breeding here since at least 2016," Iain Cowe said in the Butterfly Conservation report.
Those with no know-how of the unique butterfly farming may think she is a joker, oblivious to the value of the little creatures.
As a family, the Bailey's have always visited the butterfly farm in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as Twycross Zoo as well as Centre Parcs, so Rebecca has grown up around the importance of nature.
Apart from some foreign species, the Butterfly House will have 35 to 40 local butterflies ones,' he said.
During the course of study it was felt that, special attention is required for understanding biodiversity of butterflies in our region, since the morphology of butterfly is greatly influenced by various factors, hence their biology, ecology, may also be studied, which will help us to understand butterflies, and being agriculturist we must promote conservation of butterflies.
When we have cold, wet summers, as in 2012, we expect butterfly populations to plummet, but that wasn't the case this year.
The researchers found that among the 190 butterfly species observed nectaring during the study, 30 were flower specialists who are picky about their diets, feeding only on selected flower species, while the rest feed from a wide array of flowers.
Online registration for the 2016 Butterfly Badger Open is available by visiting Omnipong.
They're beautiful and sweet," said Kathryn Kemp, retired mental health counselor and novice butterfly watcher.
Elsewhere in the count, the gatekeeper claimed top spot as the most commonly seen species with numbers up 17% on last year, while the large white butterfly recovered from a fall seen last year to claim second spot with a 46% rise.
Rahhal said the butterfly garden will have a kids' interactive area where they can watch movies, draw and colour butterflies and get them printed on customised T-shirts.
Make yours a butterfly summer by getting out for the count.
I made my way into town and, just by the Playhouse theatre, I noticed something fluttering by me in the dazzling sunlight, when I noticed this butterfly and it suddenly landed on the ground and there was a "peacock" with its wings open.
If I were a butterfly, just think of all the places I could go
Anyone can have a go at butterfly spotting, whether it is in your garden, your local park or in nature reserves.