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If a person is very social in a party, striking up conversations with different people from one end of the hall to the other end, are there some good expressions to describe this person? In Chinese, we say she is a butterfly dancing among the flowers. What is the closest expression or metaphor in English?

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Anyone familiar with Tom Berenger's portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt on TV a few years ago will understand when I propose Bull Moose as an answer for this question. –  Pieter Geerkens Dec 2 '13 at 0:31
    
The adjective form for such a person is extroverted. As you seem to be asking about a noun for such a person, stick with the suggested "social butterfly". –  Patrick M Dec 2 '13 at 2:02
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What I generally call them isn't fit to print on a family website :) –  scottishwildcat Dec 2 '13 at 10:31

5 Answers 5

An almost exact English equivalent is social butterfly.

Note how the etymology mirrors the Chinese expression:

Definition: a very sociable person who flits from one social event to another

Etymology: likened to a butterfly flitting between flowers

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You could also say (s)he's the life of the party

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Often augmented to "life and soul of the party". –  Ste Dec 2 '13 at 8:55

They could be described as gregarious.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gregarious

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Another phrase is "belle of the ball." "Social butterfly" might have a slightly negative connotation in certain contexts. "Belle of the ball" literally means the "the beautiful one at the dance" but is often used to describe a young lady who is socially adept at a particular event and is generally a positive description of such a person.

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Can you expand on what sort of negative connotations "social butterfly" might have? I've personally never heard of any. –  Roddy of the Frozen Peas Dec 2 '13 at 2:02
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Not a bad answer, but it turns the question sideways. A social butterfly seeks out other people to interact with. The belle of the ball, on the other hand, is the one most sought after (regardless of how outgoing he or she may be). –  Patrick M Dec 2 '13 at 2:04
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@RoddyoftheFrozenPeas, a social butterfly flits from group to group at a party but isn't necessarily able to form firm friendships with anybody. –  The Photon Dec 2 '13 at 4:10
    
@RoddyoftheFrozenPeas: “social butterfly” has a slight connotation (to me) that their social interactions tend to be only superficial. –  PLL Dec 2 '13 at 19:21

I would say that the person has an outgoing nature.

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