noun, plural gadflies.
any of various flies, as a stable fly or warble fly, that bite or annoy domestic animals.
a person who persistently annoys or provokes others with criticism, schemes, ideas, demands, requests, etc.

1585–95; gad2 + fly2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gadfly (ˈɡædˌflaɪ)
n , pl -flies
1.  any of various large dipterous flies, esp the horsefly, that annoy livestock by sucking their blood
2.  a constantly irritating or harassing person
[C16: from gad² (sting) + fly²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1620s, "fly which bites cattle," probably from gad "goad, metal rod" (early 13c.), here in the sense of "stinger," from O.N. gaddr "spike, nail," from P.Gmc. *gadaz "pointed stick;" but sense is entangled with gad (v.) and an early meaning of gadfly was also "someone who likes
to go about, often stopping here and there." Sense of "one who irritates another" is from 1640s (equivalent of L. oestrus).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He's both a gadfly and a visionary, whose cowboy trappings disguise the singularity of his purpose.
Research into the subject quickly identifies one major gadfly.
Perhaps it's a common denominator of those who feel they must play the role of unwanted gadfly.
He was a gadfly, moving in and out of the local courts and federal agencies.
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