What does the idiom "have butterflies in one's stomach" mean?

Are you using the idiom have butterflies in one's stomach but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the have butterflies in one's stomach idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "have butterflies in one's stomach"


The idiom 'have butterflies in one's stomach' is an expression used to convey a feeling of nervousness or uneasiness. When someone has butterflies in their stomach, they feel nervous or anxious, as though there is a fluttering in their stomach. This phrase is typically used when someone is feeling anxious or nervous before they take part in a particular activity, such as public speaking, or before they go on a first date.


The phrase 'have butterflies in one's stomach' has been in use since the early 1900s in the United States. It is believed to have originated from the idea of the feeling of nervousness being similar to the fluttering of a butterfly's wings. The phrase is thought to have been in use since at least the 1930s, when it was documented in American newspapers.


The phrase 'have butterflies in one's stomach' is usually used to express nervousness or anxiousness. It is often used figuratively, to convey the idea of having a feeling of fluttering in one's stomach. It can be used to describe one's own feelings of nervousness, or the feeling of someone else.

Example Sentences

  • I have butterflies in my stomach before I go on stage to perform.
  • I had butterflies in my stomach before my first date with my now-husband.
  • I can tell you're feeling nervous, you have butterflies in your stomach.

The meanings of the words in the "have butterflies in one's stomach" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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