[ buht-er ]
See synonyms for: butterbutteredbuttering on Thesaurus.com

  1. the fatty portion of milk, separating as a soft whitish or yellowish solid when milk or cream is agitated or churned.

  2. this substance, processed for cooking and table use.

  1. any of various other soft spreads for bread: apple butter; peanut butter.

  2. any of various substances of butterlike consistency, as various metallic chlorides, and certain vegetable oils solid at ordinary temperatures.

verb (used with object)
  1. to put butter on or in; spread or grease with butter.

  2. to apply a liquefied bonding material to (a piece or area), as mortar to a course of bricks.

  1. Metalworking. to cover (edges to be welded together) with a preliminary surface of the weld metal.

Verb Phrases
  1. butter up, Informal. to flatter someone in order to gain a favor: He suspected that they were buttering him up when everyone suddenly started being nice to him.

Origin of butter

before 1000; Middle English; Old English butere<Latin būtȳrum<Greek boútȳron

Other words from butter

  • but·ter·less, adjective
  • but·ter·like, adjective
  • un·but·tered, adjective

Words that may be confused with butter

Words Nearby butter

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use butter in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for butter


/ (ˈbʌtə) /

    • an edible fatty whitish-yellow solid made from cream by churning, for cooking and table use

    • (as modifier): butter icing Related adjective: butyraceous

  1. any substance with a butter-like consistency, such as peanut butter or vegetable butter

  1. look as if butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth to look innocent, although probably not so

  1. to put butter on or in

  2. to flatter

Origin of butter

Old English butere, from Latin būtyrum, from Greek bouturon, from bous cow + turos cheese

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with butter


In addition to the idioms beginning with butter

  • butter up
  • butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth

also see:

  • bread and butter
  • bread-and-butter letter
  • know which side of bread is buttered

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.