This nOde last updated May 29th, 2005 and is
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1. Any of various insects of the order Lepidoptera, characteristically having slender bodies, knobbed antennae, and four broad, usually colorful wings.
2. A person interested principally in frivolous pleasure: a social butterfly.
3. Sports. The butterfly stroke.
4. butterflies. A feeling of unease or mild nausea caused especially by fearful anticipation.
Often used to modify another noun: a butterfly knife; a butterfly hinge.
butterflied, butterflying, butterflies
To cut and spread open and flat, as shrimp.
[Middle English butterflye, from Old English butorflêoge : butor, butere, butter.
Word History: Is a butterfly named for the color of its excrement or because it was really a thieving witch? The first suggestion rests on the fact that an early Dutch name for the butterfly was boterschijte. This name is as astonishing a phenomenon as the fact that anyone ever noticed the color of butterfly excrement. Apparently, however, when the butterfly was not busy leaving colorful traces of itself, it was stealing milk and butter. This was not because of its thievish nature but because it was really a mischievous witch in the form of a winged insect. So the second suggestion is that this predilection for butter larceny gave rise to the colorful insect's name.
butterfly, flying INSECT that with the MOTH comprises the order Lepidoptera. Butterflies have coiled, sucking mouthparts; two pairs of wings that function as one; and antennae with knobs at the tips. Most feed on nectar from flowers and are active by day. The butterfly larva (Caterpillar) is transformed into a pupa (chrysalis) with a hardened outer integument within which it changes into the adult. Adults of most species live only about a month.
psyche ancient Greek
Also meant "soul", and "breath" (now "mind", of course).
Note that the human Psyche was lovers with the god Eros (at least until she did the forbidden, gazing on his sleeping form, invisible save by the oil lamp she lit); compare the sexual butterfly images in Nabokov's _Ada_.
There may also be a connection, based on shape, of butterflies with the Minoan labrys, or double axe of the Labyrinth.
Within the armor is the butterfly and within the butterfly is the signal from another star.
- Philip K. Dick
The inside front cover of the March 1944 issue of BioScience displays five pairs of colorful butterflies. Each member of each pair is virtually a duplicate of its partner in shape, design, and colors. Yet, each member of each pair is a different species. Although the pairs are from the same geographical regions, it is not obvious why this astounding mimicry should occur. Here, one cannot invoke the explanation that one species gains an evolutionary advantage by mimicking an unpalatable species, as with mimics of the Monarch Butterfly. That is, there seems to be no evolutionary advantage to looking alike.
(Miller, Julie Ann; BioScience, inside front cover, March 1994. Miller's editorial remarks are based upon a later article by H.F. Nijhout. Nijhout's article explains how butterfly wing patterns may have evolved.)
Cases of remarkable mimicry also occur among geographically separated species. For example, the North American Meadowlarks are dead ringers for the African Yellow-throated Longclaw. "Convergent evolution" names the phenomenon but doesn't tell how or why long chains of random mutations can come up with the same designs where there seems to be no "guidance" by the forces of natural selection. Perhaps genomes contain "subprograms" for those patterns and structures often used in biology. Of course, Sheldrake's idea of "morphic resonance" also applies here.
"papillon" - french for butterfly
the so-called "butterfly effect".
Complexity theory and chaosdynamics squeezed out this memorable nugget to amuse the world with Nature's antics. It states that the flapping of a butterfly's wings in one part of the world can have profound effects on the weather in another.
A fractal is generated by a recursiveprocess. So are landscapes and trees. DNA replication, population flux, heart fibrillation, the stock market -- all are based on iteration (cyclicity) and feedback. So are you. And how about language? And, consciousness -- self-consciousness -- is now presumed to be a recursive process.
The butterfly effect is due to a small change in one cycle getting fed back into the process, amplifying itself each time until it is quite significant.