Spanish fly

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Spanish fly is a term that has been in use since the 1600s, though many find it confusing. We will examine the definition of Spanish fly, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Spanish fly is a green European beetle that has been in used as an aphrodisiac for hundreds of years, though this is a dangerous practice. These beetles exude an irritant known as cantharidin which may cause blisters. Users grind up the bodies of the beetles and ingest them. The cantharidin causes irritation and burning when it is eliminated from the body, and in large doses is poisonous and may cause death. Though true Spanish fly consists of ground up blister beetles, many products purporting to be aphrodisiacs carry the name Spanish fly. The term Spanish fly has often been used in jokes in which women are drugged so they may be more pliant, sexually. Such jokes are now considered extremely offensive. Note that the word Spanish in Spanish fly is properly rendered with a capital letter.


He said Cosby’s testimony along with an old comedy routine about Spanish fly are evidence of his consciousness of the effects of the intoxicants and his willingness to use them. (The Valley News)

According to its manufacturers, Spanish Gold Fly is a “100 per cent natural and herbal” female aphrodisiac, which leads to “a volcanic eruption of ultimate passion and a feeling of intense sexual desire and lust”. (The Telegraph)

Ford had heard of Spanish Fly’s (undeserved) reputation as an aphrodisiac, but until that point hadn’t known the chemical name was cantharidin, or that his company kept a quantity of it in their stores. (The Guardian)