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Deer botfly (Cephenemyia stimulator)
Horsefly (Diptera family Tabanidae, Tabanus sp)


From gad (spike) +‎ fly.


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gadfly (plural gadflies)

  1. Any dipterous insect of the family Oestridae, commonly known as botflies.
    Synonym: botfly
    Coordinate term: warble fly
  2. A horsefly: any of various species of fly, of the family Tabanidae, noted for buzzing about animals and sucking their blood.
    Synonyms: horsefly, stoat-fly, stout
    Coordinate term: warble fly
    • 2005, Rafael Argullol, The End of the World as a Work of Art: A Western Story, Bucknell University Press (→ISBN), page 48:
      Vengeful Hera transformed her into an animal (a beautiful cow), and imposed upon her the company of a gadfly to sting her continuously, thus forcing her to escape on an endless pilgrimage.
  3. (figuratively) One who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempts to stimulate innovation by proving an irritant.
    • 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, pages 26, 27:
      What was required now was the intervention of some men who were not gadflies. [...] The logic of Pearson's arguments was accepted, up to a point, by a consortium of businessmen. In August 1854 [...] the consortium obtained royal assent for [...] the Metropolitan Railway. [...] In 1859, when it looked as though the Metropolitan Railway Company would be wound up with no line built, he [Charles Pearson] wrote a pamphlet: [...]. Gadfly he may have been, but by this 'letter' he persuaded the Corporation of London to invest £200,000 in the line, a most unusual example of a public body investing in a Victorian railway.
  4. (derogatory) One who merely irritates without making useful suggestions.
  5. (derogatory, slang) A bloodsucker; a person who takes without giving back.
    Synonyms: bloodsucker; see also Thesaurus:scrounger
    He's a regular gadfly and takes advantage of his friend's generosity.


Further reading[edit]