Butterflies in My Stomach – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you about to undertake a task that’s making you feel nervous? If so, you could use the expression “I have butterflies in my stomach” to describe your feeling of nervousness. This post unpacks everything you need to know about the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

If someone tells you I have “butterflies in my stomach,” they are telling you that they are nervous about something they are about to do. For instance, if you’re waiting in line to get into a concert venue to see your favorite band perform, you could say you have “butterflies in your stomach” to describe your feeling of nervous anticipation.

If you’re at work and you’re waiting to take a polygraph test, you could say you have “butterflies in your stomach” to describe your feelings of anxiety and nervousness at the situation. It’s a great way of expressing concern or excitement at an upcoming event or task.

The phrase is still in use today, and you probably hear it all the time. It suits professional and social use in conversation, and most people will understand what you mean when using the expression.

Example Usage

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to do this; I have butterflies in my stomach.”

“I’m going out on a date with John tonight. I’m so nervous that I have butterflies in my stomach.”

“When you took that corner at 150-miles an hour, I had butterflies in my stomach.”

“I’m waiting for them to announce the winner, and I have butterflies in my stomach right now.”

“What are they going to say? I have such butterflies in my stomach right now.”

“The boss is grilling everyone about the theft. We all have to go in for a polygraph, and I have butterflies in my stomach, even though I didn’t do it.”

Origin

The first use of the phrase “butterflies in my stomach” appears in a 1908 publication where it reads.

gave him a sad feeling, as if he had a butterfly in his stomach.”

Bill Gardener’s 1943 work describing the ordeals of paratroopers is the first well-known use of the phrase, where it appears as follows.

I landed all right, and although I’ll always have butterflies in my stomach every time I go up.”

Bill describes the feeling that small butterflies are floating around in his stomach as the nervousness washes over him in preparation for the jump.

The phrase went on to gain popularity in everyday conversation, and many people use the expression all the time to describe their nervous or excited disposition.

Phrases Similar to Butterflies in My Stomach

  • My heart skipped a beat.
  • Heebie-jeebies.
  • Collywobbles.

Phrases Opposite to Butterflies in My Stomach

  • Ready to rock and roll.
  • No fear.
  • Solid as a rock.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Butterflies in my stomach.
  • Butterflies in my tummy.

Ways People May Say Butterflies in My Stomach Incorrectly

You wouldn’t use the phrase “butterflies in your stomach” to describe feeling ill from a stomach bug. It doesn’t refer to the feeling of nausea or pain, but rather excitement and nervousness. Typically, the alternative phrase, “butterflies in my tummy,” is the more common of the two versions.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Butterflies in My Stomach

You can use the phrase “butterflies in my stomach” when you’re describing a feeling of excitement and excited nervousness at an impending outcome. For instance, if you’re standing on the edge of a bridge waiting to make a bungee jump, you could say that you “have butterflies in your stomach” to describe the feeling of nervousness before making the jump. The phrase suits social and professional use, and it’s a common idiom in circulation today.

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