take not a musket

Hi dear friends
what does the following sentence mean?
“take not a musket to kill a butt”
is it an idiom?

Where did you find this sentence? Can you give us more context?

I am familiar with “take not a musket to kill a butterfly” but not “a butt”, which is an idiom with the same meaning as “break a butterfly on the wheel” or “break a fly on the wheel” or “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.


I think Haihao is right. I think the end of the word butterfly was removed somehow.

In modern terms, it basically means, “Don’t use a shotgun to kill a butterfly.” In other words, don’t use enormous destructive power when you only need a little.

Just out of curiosity, on what kind of “wheel” a butterfly or a fly is supposed to be broken? Could anyone shed some light on this for me?

I didn’t understand that part either.

Ever heard of the torture wheel?

In Polish language it does exist “breaking by the wheel” , kind of torture for convicts and criminals the technic developed in Middle Ages.
Could it be connected ? Both things are most probably named very accidental but who knows after all ? Perhaps, it was some special wheel - piece of medieval engineering work the “sophisticated” technology for breaking what ever necessery to break.

‘torture wheel’ is enlightening!