butterfly

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Related to butterflies: butterflies in stomach
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(as) gaudy as a butterfly

Very colorful. I wasn't planning on wearing a dress with such a bold pattern—I don't want to look as gaudy as a butterfly.
See also: butterfly, gaudy

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 form of torture in which the 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

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

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

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

social butterfly

Someone who enjoys frequently mingling with other people at social events. Tom's always been something of a social butterfly, so we've never really worried about him making friends or finding his way in the world. She used to be quite the social butterfly, but no one has heard from Sarah in weeks.
See also: butterfly, social

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

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

*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, gaudy

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 ?
Last November, Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon, announced a plan that will help protect the monarch butterflies' overwintering forests.
The butterflies are being grown specifically for this event (it takes four weeks) from a breeder in Clearwater, Fla., who also houses headquarters in the Berkshires.
To take part in the count, which runs from Friday, July 19 to Sunday, August 11, people just need to find a sunny spot anywhere in the UK and spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies they see, and then submit sightings online atwww.bigbutterflycount.orgor via the free Big Butterfly Count app.
Spread over an 80-acre area in the eastern part of the park, the Punjab government built the mesmerising butterfly house in 2016 to create an artificial breeding facility for butterflies. Soon after its inauguration, the butterfly house became popular among visitors who showed a keen interest in learning about the insects, their types and life cycles.
Besides their ability to fly at speeds up to a whopping 25 miles an hour, painted lady butterflies are also known for their peculiar flight pattern.
At the larval stage, butterflies are preys for birds or other insects.
LONG GRASS AND WILDFLOWERS LET an area of grass grow long and meadow brown butterflies should breed in it.
Through his writings, McGlashan had become recognized as an expert on butterflies and catching them.
Once the butterflies are caught, they are normally put in a hatching nest to lay eggs that grow to become caterpillar and later pupae, which is then collected to be transported to the Kipepeo project centre.
'Apart from some foreign species, the Butterfly House will have 35 to 40 local butterflies ones,' he said.
To take part in the survey simply count all the butterflies you see in a fifteen-minute period on a bright, sunny day.
ABSTRACT: Butterflies during present study Papilionoid butterflies were collected from various localities of Tandojam.
The results were even lower than the cold washout summer of 2012 which proved a disaster for butterflies, despite 2016 being warmer than average and relatively dry, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation said.
On Saturday, four women set out in the west Eugene wetlands to chase the ephemeral flashes and flutters of July-awakened butterflies.