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dragonfly

[drag-uh n-flahy] /ˈdræg ənˌflaɪ/
noun, plural dragonflies.
1.
any of numerous stout-bodied, nonstinging insects of the order Odonata (suborder Anisoptera), the species of which prey on mosquitoes and other insects and are distinguished from the damselflies by having the wings outstretched rather than folded when at rest.
2.
(initial capital letter) Military. a two-seat, twin-turbojet U.S. attack aircraft in service since 1967, armed with a Minigun and capable of carrying nearly 5700 pounds (2585 kg) of ordnance.
Origin of dragonfly
1620-1630
1620-30; dragon + fly2
Regional variation note
1. the dragonfly is also called a darning needle and a devil's darning needle in the Northern and Western U.S. In the Northern U.S. it is also called a sewing needle. In the Midland U.S. it is called a snake feeder, in the South Midland and Southern U.S. a snake doctor, and in the Southern U.S., especially in the Southern Coastal areas, it is called a mosquito hawk or a skeeter hawk. Spindle is also in use, chiefly in New Jersey and in the Delaware Valley. Ear sewer is in older use in some scattered regional areas.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dragonfly
Historical Examples
  • They were in the deck-saloon of the dragonfly, steaming southwards from Valencia.

    The Summons A.E.W. Mason
  • I saw my first dragonfly that day, and tried to catch him in my cap, but he evaded me.

    Recollections David Christie Murray
  • A Gnat and a dragonfly, with a great many of their relations, arrived about the same time with the Beetle.

    The Butterfly's Ball R.M. Ballantyne
  • dragonfly was on the ground in front of me and he yelled up and said "What's the matter?"

  • Then a dragonfly caught their attention, and they forgot the willow-leaf, as instantly as children forget.

    The Tower of Oblivion Oliver Onions
  • This is what we all said though: dragonfly said, "Good morning, Mr. Black!"

  • The dragonfly ran past her to the arm of the great mole and was moored with her stern to the quay.

    The Summons A.E.W. Mason
  • A second dragonfly appeared, its body a vivid purple, and a third.

    The Mad Planet Murray Leinster
  • But this power of rapid movement in the dragonfly, be the rate more or less, is in just keeping with its structure.

    Poachers and Poaching John Watson
  • Grace had been executing an intricate step, and now she stood on tiptoe, poised like a dragonfly.

    Yonder Emily Hilda Young
British Dictionary definitions for dragonfly

dragonfly

/ˈdræɡənˌflaɪ/
noun (pl) -flies
1.
any predatory insect of the suborder Anisoptera, having a large head and eyes, a long slender body, two pairs of iridescent wings that are outspread at rest, and aquatic larvae: order Odonata See also damselfly
2.
any other insect of the order Odonata
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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Word Origin and History for dragonfly
n.

1620s, from dragon + fly (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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