from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The popular name of several species of British butterflies.
- n. The popular name of plants of the genus Fritillaria.
It was a silver-washed fritillary, the largest and most impressive of all the British fritillaries and one that has bucked the dismal trend and expanded its range after years of contraction.
This is the small fritillary, a beautiful little creature that may be seen flitting from blossom to blossom, or careering in the early summer air in the manner almost of a tumbler pigeon, before any other of its kind has left its winter's cradle.
The pearl-bordered fritillary was known as 'the woodman's friend' because it would faithfully follow foresters around broadleaved woods as they coppiced or cut down patches of trees, attracted to the flowers that blossomed in the freshly cut glades in subsequent years.
This word comes from the Latin ‘fritillus,’ dice-box, which comes from ‘fritinnire,’ to twitter, imitative of the rattle of dice. The butterfly may be named for its resemblance of its markings to those of dice.