- the fatty portion of milk, separating as a soft whitish or yellowish solid when milk or cream is agitated or churned.
- this substance, processed for cooking and table use.
- any of various other soft spreads for bread: apple butter; peanut butter.
- any of various substances of butterlike consistency, as various metallic chlorides, and certain vegetable oils solid at ordinary temperatures.
- to put butter on or in; spread or grease with butter.
- to apply a liquefied bonding material to (a piece or area), as mortar to a course of bricks.
- Metalworking. to cover (edges to be welded together) with a preliminary surface of the weld metal.
- 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
- (tr, adverb) to flatter
- an edible fatty whitish-yellow solid made from cream by churning, for cooking and table use
- (as modifier)butter icing Related adjective: butyraceous
- any substance with a butter-like consistency, such as peanut butter or vegetable butter
- look as if butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth to look innocent, although probably not so
- to put butter on or in
- to flatter
Word Origin and History for butter up
Old English butere "butter," general West Germanic (cf. Old Frisian, Old High German butera, German Butter, Dutch boter), an early loan-word from Latin butyrum "butter" (source of Italian burro, Old French burre, French beurre), from Greek boutyron, perhaps literally "cow-cheese," from bous "ox, cow" (see cow (n.)) + tyros "cheese;" but this might be a folk etymology of a Scythian word.
The product was used from an early date in India, Iran and northern Europe, but not in ancient Greece and Rome. Herodotus described it (along with cannabis) among the oddities of the Scythians. Butter-knife attested from 1818.
Old English buterian "spread butter on," from the same source as butter (n.). Figurative meaning "to flatter lavishly" is by 1798 (with up (adv.), in Connelly's Spanish-English dictionary, p.413). Related: Buttered; buttering.
- A soft yellowish or whitish emulsion of butterfat, water, air, and sometimes salt, churned from milk or cream and processed for use in cooking and as a food.
- A soft solid having at room temperature a consistency like that of butter.
Idioms and Phrases with butter up
Excessively praise or flatter someone, usually to gain a favor. For example, If you butter up Dad, he'll let you borrow the car. This term transfers the oily, unctuous quality of butter to lavish praise. [c. 1700]
In addition to the idioms beginning with butter
- butter up
- butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth
- bread and butter
- bread-and-butter letter
- know which side of bread is buttered