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.
verb (used with object)
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.
Verb phrases
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.

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

butterless, adjective
butterlike, adjective
unbuttered, adjective

budder, butter.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
butt3 (bʌt)
1.  to strike or push (something) with the head or horns
2.  (intr) to project; jut
3.  (intr; foll by in or into) to intrude, esp into a conversation; interfere; meddle
4.  informal chiefly (US), (Canadian) butt out to stop interfering or meddling
5.  a blow with the head or horns
[C12: from Old French boter, of Germanic origin; compare Middle Dutch botten to strike; see beat, button]

butter (ˈbʌtə)
1.  a.  an edible fatty whitish-yellow solid made from cream by churning, for cooking and table use
 b.  (as modifier): butter icing Related: butyraceous
2.  any substance with a butter-like consistency, such as peanut butter or vegetable butter
3.  look as if butter wouldn't melt in one's mouth to look innocent, although probably not so
4.  to put butter on or in
5.  to flatter
Related: butyraceous
[Old English butere, from Latin būtyrum, from Greek bouturon, from bous cow + turos cheese]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. butere "butter," general W.Gmc. (cf. O.Fris., O.H.G. butera, Ger. Butter, Du. boter), an early loan-word from L. butyrum "butter" (cf. It. burro, O.Fr. burre, Fr. beurre), from Gk. boutyron, perhaps lit. "cow-cheese," from bous "ox, cow" + tyros "cheese;" but this may 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. The verb is O.E. buterian; figurative meaning "to flatter lavishly" is from 1816. Butter-fingered is attested from 1610s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

butter but·ter (bŭt'ər)

  1. 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.

  2. A soft solid having at room temperature a consistency like that of butter.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Butter definition

(Heb. hemah), curdled milk (Gen. 18:8; Judg. 5:25; 2 Sam. 17:29), or butter in the form of the skim of hot milk or cream, called by the Arabs kaimak, a semi-fluid (Job 20:17; 29:6; Deut. 32:14). The words of Prov. 30:33 have been rendered by some "the pressure [not churning] of milk bringeth forth cheese."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with butter, also see bread and butter; bread-and-butter letter; know which side of bread is buttered.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
If butter is used, cream the butter, and spread bread before cutting from loaf.
Cream two tablespoons butter, and add one teaspoon white of egg.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dredge with flour, and sauté in butter.
Add enough melted butter to make mixture of the right consistency to shape.
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