Butterflies In Your Stomach

Meaning of Idiom ‘Butterflies in Your Stomach’

To have butterflies in your stomach means to feel nervous or anxious and have a queasy or ‘fluttering’ feeling in your gut. This idiom may describe nervous anticipation, such as felt before going on stage to perform. In fact, it is often used to describe ‘stagefright.’

There are several different variations or simplified versions of this idiom, such as:

  • A case of butterflies – if something makes you nervous, it ‘gives you a case of butterflies.’
  • Butterflies – The simplest version of this idiom. If you are nervous you have butterflies.

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Examples Of Use

“The first time I went on stage I had butterflies in my stomach. The last time I went on stage, same thing.”

“Looking down from a height always gives me butterflies.”

“Sarah had a case of butterflies at the beginning of the interview, but she soon relaxed once she realized how down to Earth Mr. Harold was.”


The exact origin of this idiom is unknown but it has been used since at least the 1930s. It alludes, in an imaginative way, to how you might feel if butterflies were fluttering around in your stomach.

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