One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A fly that bites livestock, especially a horsefly, warble fly, or botfly.
- ‘She was tormented by a furious little gadfly that bit her mercilessly, though she flicked her tail this way and that.’
- ‘Zeus had once tried to seduce the lovely Io, but Hera, his jealous wife, had discovered her husband's intentions and turned poor Io into a cow, left to wander about the earth, constantly pursued and tormented by a pestilent gadfly.’
- ‘Later, Hera sent the notorious gadfly to continuously bite and irritate Io.’
- ‘Like a gadfly you have been timing your intervention in my sleep routine with uncouth precision.’
- 1.1 An annoying person, especially one who provokes others into action by criticism.
- ‘Socrates' preferred analogy for his own role in the city was that of a gadfly, who lit upon his fellow citizens and sought to sting them into a healthy state of intellectual wakefulness.’
- ‘But he admits he is curious: what has the liberal gadfly done to annoy so many conservatives like him?’
- ‘As I discussed in another column, anonymity has allowed sites to post arguably confidential corporate information despite trade secret laws, and thus act as gadflies for corporate change.’
- ‘Baseball, by which I mean baseball, lowercase b, has lost a penetrating mind of great discernment, a gadfly who would not be dissuaded from his job as he saw it even when the Commissioner himself phoned to tell him to cut it out.’
- ‘In part as a way to circumvent this ban, the two launched the Emergency Conservation Committee, a radical organization that remained a gadfly in wildlife conservation circles for the next three decades.’
- ‘We need to encourage new and daring defenders of science, gadflies in the name of critical inquiry; interpreters able to extend the public's understanding of science and its methods.’
- ‘I have always considered him sort of a Socratic gadfly.’
- ‘In a male-dominated culture, she was a woman who read, a writer who meant to publish, and a theological gadfly.’
- ‘Even more important, he, the shocker, the inspirer, the perpetual gadfly and disrupter and disturber, had gained the confidence of the astute and judicious statesman who was our Prime Minister.’
- ‘A prolific and polemical author unafraid to offend any and all comers, Abbey was a gadfly who reveled in the controversy he stirred.’
- ‘He lives in Maine now, and remains a journalistic gadfly.’
- ‘She was an occasional mover once, an equal opportunity, though always at bottom DNC faithful gadfly to be reckoned with, but now she's become little more than a formulaic stock pot cooking up the same tired stone soup every week.’
- ‘The presence of gadflies has the effect of stalling the proceedings and delaying decisions.’
- ‘The gadfly soon became an annoyance to both the MTA and the union, creating a newsletter which aired workers' grievances but criticised alleged union inaction.’
- ‘I am not a developer gadfly and my philosophy with films and developers has always been to stay with things that work well.’
- ‘But as critic, scourge, and gadfly he is in the league of Socrates and Voltaire.’
- ‘It was much more fun to be a gadfly than to be stung by one.’
- ‘One of his victims was the good abbe himself, a court gadfly and the author of musical comedies, by all estimates a man begging for comic publicity.’
- ‘While his documentaries are popular in the US and he makes the bestseller lists with his books, he is still sometimes seen by the press and public there as a fringe gadfly.’
- ‘Socrates has been described as a gadfly - a first-class pain.’
Late 16th century: from gad, or obsolete gad ‘goad, spike’, from Old Norse gaddr, of Germanic origin; related to yard.
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