"Social Butterfly" vs "Party Animal"

Cristina Moreno

Senior Member
Lebanon-Arabic
Hello again everyone!
I've read earlier a similar thread where they were discussing the expression "social butterfly", and "party animal" came up in the conversation as well, and I didn't quite understand the difference between them.
Could someone please explain that difference? And could you tell me if they are pejorative? (once my friend called me a "party animal", so when I told him that wasn't nice, he looked at me as if I were wrong)
I'm looking forward for your responses.
 
  • Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    In the US (maybe elsewhere too), the word "partying" for teenagers and older people often mean "drinking", not just having good clean fun. A "party animal" is someone who goes out a lot, stays out late, gets drunk, gets wild, etc.

    On the other hand, a "social butterfly" is one who simply socializes a lot with many people (usually the "popular" crowd). Usually they gossip or are involved in gossip, and probably have "friends" who aren't really friends.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I think views on this are likely to be quite subjective. To me "party animal" is likely to be said with approval, and people will style themselves as "party animals" with pride, people who "know how to have a good time" are often admired. If I heard it I wouldn't automatically consider it pejorative.

    On the other hand, I doubt many people will call themselves "social butterflies" with any degree of pride, and I think with its connotations of insincerity and superficiality, it is most likely to be pejorative, at least to some extent.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    I agree that "social butterfly" suggests the idle rich who flit around from one society event to another (Paris Hilton's mother comes to mind!).

    On the other hand, I wouldn't want to be called either a "social butterfly" or a "party animal." To me, "party animal" suggests a certain lack of seriousness. It also suggests that "partying" is a major priority in life, more appropriate to a teen-ager than to an adult, perhaps.

    I have the feeling that the answers you get are going to depend on the ages of those who answer! I think that few people older than 35-40 want to be known as "party animals."
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I think views on this are likely to be quite subjective. To me "party animal" is likely to be said with approval, and people will style themselves as "party animals" with pride, people who "know how to have a good time" are often admired. If I heard it I wouldn't automatically consider it pejorative.

    On the other hand, I doubt many people will call themselves "social butterflies" with any degree of pride, and I think with its connotations of insincerity and superficiality, it is most likely to be pejorative, at least to some extent.

    Hmmm, interesting. In my world, being called a "social butterfly" isn't pejorative. It does have a slight tang of superficiality but is invariably used in a humourous or teasing manner ie:

    "You're going out again tonight? You're such a social butterfly!"

    "Party animal", on the other hand, has a pejorative meaning. I would expect a "20-something" male to brag about being a party animal which means that he believes in getting plastered and raising hell.

    As you said, MM, this is obviously very subjective.:)
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    As you said, MM, this is obviously very subjective.:)
    Yes, I think this is something that we all agree on! I agree that both age and place, not to mention other factors and attitudes, are going to affect one's views on this.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Christiana,

    I'd give your friend the benefit of the doubt and go with Dictionary.com's definition of 'party animal': "a very sociable person who enjoys lively social activities, a sociable person who loves and goes to many parties."

    To me, a 'social butterfly' is an affable person.
     

    panjandrum

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Clearly very subjective :)
    The social butterfly flits from place to place interested in her own appearance and in appearing in the "right" places.
    The party animal actively seeks social interaction and fun.
     
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