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[kach-flahy] /ˈkætʃˌflaɪ/
noun, plural catchflies.
any of various plants, especially of the genera Silene and Lychnis, having a viscid secretion on the stem and calyx in which small insects are sometimes caught.
Origin of catchfly
1590-1600; from phrase catch (the) fly Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for catch flies
Historical Examples
  • For want of small birds, he has learned to catch flies very skilfully.

    Letters to an Unknown Prosper Mrime
  • Was it fair to catch flies on my Sunset on Arran before the paint was dry?

    Cats W. Gordon Stables
  • When she was little more than an infant it was a pleasure to her to catch flies, to pull off their wings, and maim them entirely.

    The Sand-Hills of Jutland Hans Christian Andersen
  • Sometimes they let me out of the cage and I fly about the room and catch flies.

  • Kizzie liked to perch on my finger and catch flies for his dinner.

  • They sit on my breakfast tray and catch flies, and hang in a bunch by their tails, and reach out after my hand.

    Letters from the Cape Lady Duff Gordon
  • They work two or three hours at a time, but not hard, and then they knock off and catch flies.

    The Innocents Abroad Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Lizards crawl over the walls and ceilings, but they are harmless, and catch flies.

    Kathay: A Cruise in the China Seas W. Hastings Macaulay
  • But both of us know the proverb about what you catch flies with.

    Rope Holworthy Hall
  • The red-headed woodpecker has learned to catch flies like a common flycatcher.

    The Children's Book of Birds Olive Thorne Miller
British Dictionary definitions for catch flies


noun (pl) -flies
any of several caryophyllaceous plants of the genus Silene that have sticky calyxes and stems on which insects are sometimes trapped
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for catch flies

catch flies

verb phrase

  1. To distract the audience's attention from another performer by making unnecessary gestures and motions (1940s+ Theater)
  2. To gape and yawn, esp from boredom (1940s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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