Definition of butterfly effect in English:

butterfly effect


  • (in chaos theory) the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.

    • ‘Wakefield's paper appears to be a dramatic example of the butterfly effect celebrated in chaos theory, in which the flutter of tiny wings on one continent is amplified around the planet to produce a tidal wave on some distant shore.’
    • ‘In all cases, the butterfly effect curved off the scale.’
    • ‘Generated from model results, the top of Fig.4 shows the manifestation of the butterfly effect; the shape of the diffusion front curves as flow proceeds downstream.’
    • ‘He only had to change the tiniest thing for the end result to be completely different - known as the butterfly effect.’
    • ‘This sharp portrays a group of people suffering through the vagaries of the butterfly effect.’
    • ‘In fact, they had given the idea a name - ‘the butterfly effect.’’
    • ‘I told you about the butterfly effect, didn't I?’
    • ‘The process of obtaining apparently probabilistic outcomes from deterministic laws has acquired its own name, the butterfly effect.’
    • ‘There will be a butterfly effect in football this summer, as the ripples of one club's reconstruction bring consequences like tidal waves for some others.’
    • ‘No, it would be too risky, because of the butterfly effect.’
    • ‘This has got absolutely nothing to do with academic speculation over whether sorcery might work along a similar principle to the butterfly effect.’
    • ‘It's like the butterfly effect: a boy from Peckham forgets to take a drug test in Manchester and within days the world of football is rocked.’
    • ‘It's the butterfly effect, one magickal bullet at the right place and right time can change the world.’
    • ‘He not only arrives at the kind of great historical moment you read about in sixth-form studies, he changes events without realising through a kind of butterfly effect.’
    • ‘Yet there is a sense that progress and understanding will require something new - an economics of virtuous circles, thresholds and butterfly effects, in which small changes have very large effects.’
    • ‘Constant choices (small and large) by each musician influence the others and produce the rich diversity and creativity in the performance (butterfly effects).’
    • ‘He does an adequate job, creating multiple versions of the role for each of the parallel realities that are created by his butterfly effects.’


1970s first described in relation to meteorology, from the notion that a butterfly fluttering in Rio de Janeiro could change the weather in Chicago.


butterfly effect

/ˈbədərˌflaɪ əˈfɛkt/