One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Treated as plural. A division of the Lepidoptera that comprises the butterflies, characterized by clubbed antennae (in most forms), and equivalent to the superfamilies Papilionoidea, Hesperioidea, and Hedyloidea; (also rhopalocera) insects of this division (collectively or individually), butterflies.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in John Westwood (1805–1893), entomologist and palaeographer. From scientific Latin Rhopalocera from ancient Greek ῥόπαλος club + κέρας horn + scientific Latin -a.
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