1. Also called white walnut. the edible oily nut of an American tree, Juglans cinerea, of the walnut family.
  2. the tree itself.
  3. the light-brown wood of this tree, used for making furniture.
  4. the light-brown color resulting from a dye made from this tree.
  5. U.S. History. a Confederate soldier or partisan, especially one whose uniform was dyed with an extract from this tree.
  6. souari nut.

Origin of butternut

An Americanism dating back to 1735–45; so called from the nut's oiliness
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for butternut

Contemporary Examples of butternut

  • Grocery stories and markets will have a variety, such as butternut or pumpkin.

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    Divine Apple Dishes

    Anne Burrell

    January 6, 2011

Historical Examples of butternut

British Dictionary definitions for butternut


  1. a walnut tree, Juglans cinerea of E North AmericaCompare black walnut
  2. the oily edible egg-shaped nut of this tree
  3. the hard brownish-grey wood of this tree
  4. the bark of this tree or an extract from it, formerly used as a laxative
  5. a brownish colour or dye
  6. NZ short for butternut pumpkin
Also called (for senses 1–4): white walnut
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

Word Origin and History for butternut

also butter-nut, 1753, nut of the white walnut, a North American tree; transferred to the tree itself from 1783. The nut's color was a brownish-gray, hence the word was used (1861) to describe the warm gray color of the Southern army uniforms in the American Civil War.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper