the butterfly effect(redirected from butterfly effect)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
the butterfly effectthe 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?’
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017