Definitions for gadflyˈgædˌflaɪ

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word gadfly

Random House Webster's College Dictionary


  1. any of various flies, as a horsefly or warble fly, that bite or annoy livestock.

    Category: Entomology

  2. a person who persistently annoys or stirs up others, esp. with provocative criticism.

Origin of gadfly:


Princeton's WordNet

  1. pest, blighter, cuss, pesterer, gadfly(noun)

    a persistently annoying person

  2. gadfly(noun)

    any of various large flies that annoy livestock


  1. gadfly(Noun)

    Any dipterous insect of the genus Oestrus, and allied group of botflies.

  2. gadfly(Noun)

    A horsefly: any of various species of fly, of the family Tabanid[ae], noted for buzzing about animals and sucking their blood.

  3. gadfly(Noun)

    One who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempts to stimulate innovation by proving an irritant.

  4. gadfly(Noun)

    One who merely irritates without making useful suggestions.

  5. gadfly(Noun)

    A bloodsucker

    He's a regular gadfly and takes advantage of his friend's generosity.

  6. Origin: "fly which bites cattle", from gaddr.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Gadfly(noun)

    any dipterous insect of the genus Oestrus, and allied genera of botflies


  1. Social gadfly

    A gadfly is a person who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions. The term "gadfly" was used by Plato in the Apology to describe Socrates's relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse. During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato's writings, pointed out that dissent, like the gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high. "If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me," because his role was that of a gadfly, "to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth." This may have been one of the earliest descriptions of gadfly ethics. In modern politics, a gadfly is someone who persistently challenges people in positions of power, the status quo or a popular position. For example, Morris Kline wrote "There is a function for the gadfly who poses questions that many specialists would like to overlook. Polemics are healthy."


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