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 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

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

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

(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

*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 ?
Dr Zoe Randle, Butterfly Conservation's senior surveys officer, said: "People should be able to spot these butterflies in national park areas as their caterpillars mainly feed on the wildflower and common bird's foot trefoil."
"The butterfly can turn up anywhere so please take part in the Big Butterfly Count and look out for them - you could be witnessing a once in a decade butterfly phenomenon.
PHA Director General Ghulam Farid said the idea behind the butterfly house was to contribute to bringing back the migrated and forgotten butterflies of Lahore.
Visual artists RM de Leon, Jonathan Olazo, Trek Valdizno,Ronald Achacoso and Bernard Pacquing held art exhibits at Butterfly. Rogy Panganiban also a bead show, and I myself held a Votiveholder show.
The roof of the butterfly house is made of fibre and even though some big air conditioners have been installed in the facility to maintain the desired temperature, rising outside temperatures make it very hot and humid inside.
This includes butterfly diversity and pollution, and the impact of pollution to biodiversity in an urban setting, where experts in various fields of science work as a team under Universidad de Manila.
McGlashan was a butterfly collector, and he had written newspaper and magazine articles about the various species of butterflies in that region of northern California.
have focused on the butterfly. Butterfly Conservation estimates that the butterfly's population has dropped almost three-quarters over the last 10 years.
Even though the money belongs to 17 members of her group, the excitement reveals her satisfaction in getting rewarded for breeding butterfly pupae.
A butterfly laboratory has been also established to educate visitors regarding different stages of butterfly larvae displayed with tags on it.
FOR a butterfly, life is very precarious, starting as an immobile egg glued to a plant, followed by the hungry caterpillar stages, another period of immobility as a pupa, and finally becoming a colourful and prominent winged insect.
Scientists have worked out on various aspects viz; biology, distribution and multiplicity of butterfly fauna in Pakistan.
BUTTERFLY numbers collapsed in Wales over the summer - with experts suggesting species were affected by a cold spring and pesticides.
Franklin, WI, September 07, 2016 --(PR.com)-- On September 16th-18th, the 9th annual Butterfly Badger Open, one of the nation's biggest and longest standing table tennis tournaments, will take place in Franklin, WI (15 miles from downtown Milwaukee) at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex.