(in compounds), OE buter
), OE butor-
(in compounds), OE butr-
(inflected form), OE–eME butere
, lOE buture
, eME botere
, eME butera
, ME botir
, ME boture
, ME botyr
, ME butir
, ME butre
, ME buttere
, ME buttir
, ME buttre
, ME–15 boter
, ME–15 botter
, ME–16 buter
, ME–16 buttur
, ME 16 butture
, ME–16 buttyr
, ME– butter
, 15–16 buttor
, 15–16 butyr
, 16 bootar
, 17 buthther
, pre-17 butar
, pre-17 buter
, pre-17 butir
, pre-17 butire
, pre-17 buttar
, pre-17 buttir
, pre-17 butyre
, pre-17 buytter
, pre-17– butter
) also records a form ME bottre
. (Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):
Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin būtȳrum
< classical Latin būtȳrum
) butter < ancient Greek βούτυρον
butter < βοῦς
ox, cow (see ) + τυρός
cheese (see ).
Similar, or perhaps shared, borrowing is shown by forms in other West Germanic languages: Old Frisian butere
(West Frisian bûter
), Middle Dutch botre
), Middle Low German botter
, Old High German butira
(only in late glossaries; Middle High German buter
, German Butter
The details and date of the borrowing of the Latin word into Germanic languages are uncertain and disputed. The evidence of the Old English forms has been interpreted in more than one way to support conflicting arguments.
The Old English forms
are attested only in
With use in chemistry denoting a chloride (see ) compare post-classical Latin butyrum antimonii
(1608 or earlier), butyrum saturni
(1566 or earlier).
P1. (as if) butter wouldn't melt in his (also her, etc.) mouth : used to refer to a person who has a demure, innocent manner or appearance that conceals a bad character, underhand behaviour, etc. Also in elliptical phrases.
1530 J. Palsgrave 620/1
He maketh as thoughe butter wolde nat melte in his mouthe.
a1555 H. Latimer
ii. f. 38v
These felowes..can speake so fynely, that a man would thynke butter shold scant melte in theyr mouthes.
1608 H. Clapham i. 8
There, there, he is awaking, I will stand as butter would not melt in my mouth, gazing, crossing, trembling.
1695 E. Ravenscroft iv. xi. 48
You Mrs. Jacinta, that look'd As harmless as a Devil of two Years old; and As demure, as if Butter would not melt in your Mouth.
1738 Swift 43
She looks, as if Butter wou'dn't melt in her Mouth; but I warrant, Cheese won't choak her.
1850 Thackeray II. xxii. 223
She smiles and languishes, you'd think that butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.
1910 H. H. Richardson iv. 37
Laura..consciously wore a fixed little simper, which was meant to put it beyond doubt that butter would not melt in her mouth.
1958 M. Stewart vi. 82
You don't think she has that sour-milk face for Madam, do you? Oh, no, it's all niminy-piminy butter-won't-melt there, you mark my words.
2002 T. McKinley xv. 297
‘Miss perfect,’ she spat. ‘Little miss goody-two-shoes. Butter wouldn't bloody melt would it?’
†P2. to make butter and cheese of : (perhaps) to thwart, to make difficulties for (a person).Obsolete. rare.
[Apparently after ancient Greek τυρεύειν to make cheese, in Hellenistic Greek also to contrive by trickery and intrigue.]
1642 J. Hales 11
They made butter and cheese one of another.
P3. Chiefly S. Afr., Brit., and Austral. with one's bum (also arse, ass) in the butter and variants: in a very fortunate or advantageous situation or position. Esp. in to land with one's bum (also arse, ass) in the butter .
[Apparently after Afrikaans om met sy gat in die botter te val, lit. ‘to fall with one's arse into the butter’; compare Dutch met zijn aars in de boter vallen (1726) and similar expressions (in the same literal and figurative senses); of uncertain precise origin, but probably understood as alluding to a soft landing.]
1971 R. Christie x. 93
You, of course, have landed with your bum in the butter once more. You'll have to..go to the Victoria Falls and spend a week there making like a bloody tourist!
1979 28 June 870/1
Why the fuck should I get my ass shot off out here in the bush to protect the kaffirs sitting back there with their bums in the butter?
1987 ‘D. Kavanagh’ iv. 94
Vic's doing all right for himself. Bum in the butter.
30 July 52
Our..friends have, as they say in London cafe society, their ‘bums in the butter’ and can afford to take us out to ridiculously expensive restaurants.
23 July 11
I had an interview on the spot and started the next day. I just landed with my bum in the butter to be honest.
2015 @jeremyoos 17 Sept. in twitter.com
You have the keys to the kingdom. Fell with your arse in the butter. Golden spoon in your mouth. Good luck and enjoy!
a. General attributive, as butter cart, butter dairy, butter firkin, etc.
eOE Cleopatra Gloss. in J. J. Quinn
(Ph.D. diss., Stanford Univ.)
Uas buteri, buterstoppa.
1572 in J. Raine
1603 T. Dekker sig. D4v
The Low-countries (that are built vpon butter-firkins, and holland cheese).
1643 J. Howell 8
He swore, That hee would drowne the Hollanders in their Butter-tubs.
1693 T. Urquhart & P. A. Motteux tr. Rabelais xvii. 139
A great Butter-pot full of fresh Cheese.
1764 18 Feb.
She told the Boy she must go to a Butter Shop in Clare-Market.
1784 J. Twamley 81
A near relation of mine, who kept a Butter Dairy.
1808 C. Vancouver viii. 231
The butter-merchants in London.
1828 M. R. Mitford III. 308
[They] would run to meet the butter-cart as if it were a carriage and four.
1843 13 May 7/3
A boy saw the prisoner..knock up the top of a butter cask, scoop a quantity of the butter out, and make off with it.
1893 W. Fream
ii. iii. 260
A butter dairy should comprise two distinct compartments, one for receiving the milk, another for performing the operation of churning.
1904 J. W. Streeter xxxii. 184
Can't they drive the butter-cart out each morning and home after school?
1942 Oct. 149/1
This film-processing outfit was made from a 3-gal. butter crock and a 3-gal. tin milk cooler costing together less than a dollar.
1968 E. Kellner 172
Skinny..scooped a pound of fresh butter from the butter tub into a thin beech-wood shell.
Ken attended Wheaton College, traveling to Chicago by train, his lunch packed in a butter firkin and a few dollars tucked in his shoe.
15 June (T2)
Soon there may be as many luxury butter merchants as there are bijou bakeries.
b. Objective, as butter buyer, butter churning, butter maker, butter making, etc.
1587 R. Holinshed et al. Hist. Eng.
ii. xviii. 203/2 in
When..fewer of these butter buiers were stirring, our butter was scarslie woorth eighteene pence the gallon, that now is worth three shillings foure pence.
1652 No. 14. 105
The Piscaterian Butter-eaters, which are now a sending up to Billings-gate.
1720 No. 5879/4
1751 Lady M. W. Montagu 19 June
I expect Immortality from the Science of Butter makeing.
1839 S. Judd Let. 6 July in A. Hall
This three times a day, table-gathering and beef-eating, butter-spreading and tea-drinking,..makes one wonderfully content with life.
1863 Mar. 225
[He] excites thrillings of delightful hope in the gentle hearts of buttermongers' daughters.
1890 E. H. Barker 251
In the markets, the butter-sellers stand in rows, holding their baskets in front of them.
1912 7 87
The work..performed by a woman in a butter factory, viz :—(1) churning; (2) butter-washing; (3) butter-salting; (4) butter-kneading.
1953 9 Mar. 16
Butter producers mapped a ‘fight back’ against substitutes which have made inroads into the butter market.
1983 D. Armstrong ix. 173
Sad to say, butter lovers, our favorite spread is high in cholesterol.
2000 M. McDonald xiii. 123
I had skills that were wanted here as a planter's wife, in baking, butter-churning, and cheese-making.
There's only one artisanal butter maker.
c. Similative, with the sense ‘like butter’, as butter-bright, butter-smooth, butter-soft, etc.
1868 G. M. Hopkins 17 July in
The sun coming out..with a butter-bright lustre.
1920 J. Galsworthy ii. v. 170
His grandfather's first gold hunter watch, butter-smooth with age.
1941 M. Seeley vii. 92
Her butter-pale, sagging cheeks mottled with an unpleasant blue.
1960 2 May 31/1
A butter-bland performer with no ascertainable talent beyond the ability to mouth amiable inanities.
1980 Oct. 116/3
Wading through swirling pools and climbing over butter-slick boulders.
2011 C. Moran
They will all be made of butter-soft leather.
In the names of types of food and drink in which butter is a main ingredient.
butter ale n. now hist. and arch. a drink consisting of ale boiled with sugar, spices, butter, and sometimes eggs.More commonly called buttered ale.
1666 S. Pepys 17 Mar.
Home, having a great cold..so to bed, drinking butter-ale.
1908 E. R. Emerson II. x. 248
Butter-ale was most plentiful in the seventeenth century.
2016 D. Polansky ii. 74
‘Fresh butter ale?’ he asked. ‘Absolutely,’ M said.
butter bake n. orig. Sc. a sweet biscuit made with butter.
1817 D. MacKillop 33
An' butter baiks, an' penny baps.
1850 A. M'Gilvray 88
Pies, parlies, tarts, and butter bakes.
2015 @alinicebuns 6 Jan. in twitter.com
Viennesse [sic] whirls, ‘old skool’ butter bakes sandwiched with vanilla frosting and raspberry jam.
butter bread n.
(a) bread made from dough enriched with butter;
(b) bread spread with butter; buttered bread; a slice of this.
By the way, 'tis only to make a Butter-Bread.
1852 1 Nov. 212/2
He returned to the girl of his heart with a butterbread adorned with caviar and sausage.
1909 21 Sept. 6/4
There is nothing that can supplant butter-bread.
1995 Re: Whew! am I Tired in rec.food.cooking
The chance that a butterbread will fall on the carpet with the buttered side down is exponetially [sic] proportional to the value of the carpet.
2015 @WhiskeyDed 25 Feb. in twitter.com
I, in all my life, have never been so ready to buy a loaf of butter bread.
butter cake n. a light, moist, usually leavened cake containing butter, sugar, flour, and eggs.
1616 T. Scot Irish Banquet in sig. I7
So they call their butter cakes.
1827 9 July 1/3
I gave her a butter-cake to dinner, and some beer.
2014 Mar. 30/2
He steers clear of butter cakes and focuses on..alcoholic mousse cakes.
butter chicken n. an Indian dish consisting of pieces of chicken, usually cooked in a tandoor, served in a mild, creamy curry sauce.
1978 15 Oct. 45/2
Butter chicken, a lovely buttery stew with bits of onion, green pepper and tomato over the tandoori-roasted chicken.
1995 C. Panjabi 9
Khyber served Punjabi food with favorites like tandooris, butter chicken and choles.
2015 7 Sept. 80/2
The predictably lustrous butter chicken, which Singh and his cooks prepare with milk and fenugreek folded with fried shallots, tomatoes, and generous chunks of free-range bird.
butter cookie n. U.S. A plain, crisp biscuit whose chief ingredients are butter, flour, and sugar.
1879 20 Dec. 6/4
Butter Cookies. One cupful of sugar, one cupful of butter, two eggs.
1957 15 Nov. c6/2
At Yuletide the cookie jar is filled with..the mouth watering butter cookie from Scandinavia.
2015 N. Solomon xxiv. 228
She walked through the front door..with a tin of butter cookies.
butter crust n. pastry made with butter (as opposed to lard, suet, etc.); esp. such pastry used for the crust of a pie, etc.
1845 E. Acton xvii. 439
Butter crust for puddings.
1936 18 Apr. 12/2
They [sc. apple dumplings] are tempting to look at, tempting to eat, with their rich, golden brown butter crust, filled with spicy flavored apples.
We'll learn the basics of pie making techniques starting with a homemade butter crust.
butter icing n.
†(a) a paste made from butter and flour, used to decorate savoury dishes (obsolete rare);
(b) a soft paste, often flavoured or coloured, made by beating icing sugar into butter and used as a topping or filling for cakes.
1862 I. Williamson
Butter Icing for Ornamenting Cold Fowls, Tongues, and other Meats. Beat over a stove till smooth half a pound of white fresh butter; then add three ounces of fine sifted flour.
1874 A. Gouffé tr. J. Gouffé ii. viii. 262
Flavour some Butter Icing..with coffee, put it into a paper cone, and press it out on each cake and round the crust.
1966 21 Nov. (Women's Features section) 13/5
Use a chocolate finger biscuit and secure with butter icing.
2003 M. Satz 73/2
Frost one-half of cookies with a vanilla butter icing, and the other half with a cocoa icing.
butter pecan n. U.S. a flavour of ice cream (or other dessert), typically made with roasted pecans, butter, and vanilla; frequently attributive.
1923 29 Oct. 4/6
Bond's Barker Bakery..complete line of fancy cakes..butter pecan rolls..fruit pies.
1951 8 May 8/5
Put one chocolate-covered Brazil nut in the bottom of a glass dish, add one..dipper of butter pecan ice cream.
2014 C. Levy x. 88
I had to go with my favorite, butter pecan, and Maggie picked cookie dough.
butter pie n.
(a) U.S. a dessert pie or tart made with sugar, flour, and butter;
(b) Eng. regional (Lancashire) a savoury pie consisting of potatoes, onions, and butter.
1874 23 May 6/3
Butter pie... Take a piece of fresh butter the size of an egg, two-thirds cup of sugar, one of sweet cream, one tablespoon of flour, and sugar together, then stir in the cream.
1951 25 Sept. 5/7
Just before we left, Mr. Bird gave me a popular community recipe for a Butter Pie.
1999 Butter Pies in alt.music.manics
Since going veggie, my favourite pie is a butter pie.
2015 @Mike_Jung 22 Oct. in twitter.com
Come on, I ate 3 pieces! The butter pie presented psychic hurdles—no illusions to it, 100% fat & sugar.
The rest of May's new team wouldn't recognise a butter pie if it hit them in the face.
butter sauce n. a sauce containing butter as a main ingredient.
a1665 K. Digby
Boil Whitings as if you would eat them in the Ordinary way with thick Butter-sauce.
1733 V. La Chapelle III. 119
You may..dish them up with a small Remoulade, a Butter Sauce, or a Ravigotte.
1871 25 Feb. 86
They be artichokes for squire's dinner—they serve them wi' butter sauce in silver dishes.
1953 W. A. Roberts 252
One of the best styles is almendrina, which means a covering of crushed almonds with a butter sauce.
2010 12 July 20/3
A delicate grilled branzino was made less so by a thick butter sauce.
butter tart n. Canad. a tart with a filling of butter, eggs, and brown sugar, typically with raisins, walnuts, or pecans.
1941 2 May 5/7
Fresh Pies... Butter Tarts, Cake, Doughnuts.
1972 7 Aug. 25/4
Do you serve butter tarts with coffee?
2005 R. Aubert vii. 113
He tried to balance hot chocolate and a butter tart in one hand, as he observed the others doing.
butter tea n. a drink made with tea and butter, widely consumed in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Tibet. Traditionally made with butter from yak's milk.
[Compare Chinese sūyóu chá (a1609 or earlier; < sūyóu butter + chá tea: see ); in Tibetan, it is called ja srun-mo, lit. ‘tea which is mild’ (made ‘mild’ by mixing with butter and salt) and bod ja, lit. ‘Tibetan tea’.]
1907 26 Sept. 2/2
We made the stage to Bakmed before noon and had a refreshing meal of barley flour and butter tea.
1990 Spring 29
Have you ever thought of... Drinking butter tea with Tibetan monks?
2008 M. Akester tr. T. Khétsun xi. 137
She shed tears as she welcomed me, and right away made some tasty, nourishing butter tea.
butter toast n. now chiefly U.S. toast spread with butter; buttered toast.
1757 E. Kimber I. xi. 287
Davy..found him poring over his schemes of traffick, and munching his butter toast.
1826 R. Polwhele II. 381
I found time to..treat him with butter-toast for his supper, and butter-toast for his breakfast.
1904 July 31/2
Dry or butter toast.
2017 @Tylerjayholden 31 Jan. in twitter.com
I have been living on butter toast these last few days.
butter-and-egg man n. U.S. slang a dairyman; a provincial farmer or businessman characterized as unsophisticated or easily duped.
1867 28 Jan.
He say he get me in as a porter to a cheesemonger or butter and egg man, a Misser Thomson-Brown-Smit.
1882 5 Mar. 4/3
The editor's eye Just happened to spy The butter-and-egg-man's bright look.
1948 Spring 105
The ‘butter-and-egg’ man who startles the foreign lecturer with blunt questions.
1995 H. Roth iii. viii. 358
You were a liberated, vanguard bohemian; you sneered at the Babbitts and the big butter-and-egg men.
butter badger n.
[ < + ]
orig. Eng. regional and Irish English (northern) an itinerant trader who buys butter from farmers to sell wholesale.Now only in historical contexts.In quot. as the name of a racehorse.
[1739 in J. Cheny 17
1839 15 June 228/1
A butter-badger is still an essential personage in every little isolated community. He is a person who collects butter from house to house weekly.
1857 Sept. 355/2
His father was at one time a butter-badger.
1999 V. León 100
Being a wholesaler was no holiday. Edith was only street-legal for a year—after which, she had to apply and pay again to be a bloomin' butter Badger.
† butterbag n. slang (derogatory) Obsolete a Dutchman.With reference to the fact that the Dutch were regarded as prolific eaters of butter. Cf. and
butter barrel n.
(a) a barrel used to store butter;
(b) Eng. regional and Irish English a barrel fitted with a paddle that may be rotated by means of a handle in order to churn cream into butter; a barrel churn.
When it is almost cold, put in a hundreth of Cowcumbers into that liquor, into a butter barrel & keepe them al the yeare.
He does now, and always, since his Father's Death, has made the Butter Barrels and Half-barrels by the same Gauge by which his Father made these Casks.
1844 W. Barnes 46
The butter-barrel An' cheese-press.
1942 J. E. Lips i. 28
There were..canned goods and tea packages, flour bags and butter barrels.
Butter barrels and cheese presses are used to demonstrate the basics of cheese, cream and yoghurt-making.
butter-basher n. slang (depreciative) a person who has recently taken up work as a taxi driver, esp. during a strike.On the (uncertain) origin of the term see note at
1939 H. Hodge xv. 216
Contemptuous cabmen, therefore, called these blacklegs ‘Butter-Bashers’.
† butterbitten adj. Obsolete rare (perhaps) given to biting butter (perhaps cf. ).Perhaps with reference to the fact that the Dutch were regarded as prolific eaters of butter.
1573 G. Gascoigne sig. Ddii
The Dutche with butterbitten iawes.
butter boat n.
(a) a jug used for serving melted butter;
(b) fig. (colloq.) excessive or insincere flattery (cf. sense ).
1747 7 Feb.
A large parcel of china tea pots and china bowls, china jars, butter boats, a large parcel of coffee and chocolate cups, and several other sorts of china.
1807 Byron 5 July
Upset a butter-boat in the lap of a lady.
1866 J. E. H. Skinner I. 181
He praised some things and gave advice about others, using the butter-boat less freely than is customary at volunteer inspections.
2008 A. S. Martin 1
Mrs. George Callaway's purchases in the previous year included porcelain cups and saucers, a pinch box (for snuff), and a butter boat and stand.
butter boy n. slang (depreciative) a person who has recently taken up work as a taxi driver.Explained in the source quoted in quot. as originally alluding (like ) to new drivers during a strike in 1913 who were thought to be underqualified and perceived as until recently employed as assistants in groceries and food shops; however, later explained (cf. quots. , ) as alluding to new drivers taking the ‘bread and butter’, or means of subsistence, from established drivers. Perhaps cf. also earlier .
1939 H. Hodge x. 134
During my ‘butter-boy’ period.
1960 C. Ray 26
[The] owner-driver..is called a ‘butter-boy’ when he first appears on the rank, taking the butter from the older hands' bread, they say.
10 Dec. (G2 section) 11/2
We're known as ‘butter boys’ in the trade, because we take the bread and butter from the mouths of established drivers' families.
butter cloth n. a thin, loosely woven cloth with a fine mesh used for various purposes, esp. to wrap butter and to strain the whey from the curd during cheese-making; (also) a piece of such cloth; cf. .
1540 Inventory in
Item iij Chese clothys & iij buttor clothes.
Boile a pottle of milk and a quart of creame together, and when it is cold, set it to come with Runnet, when it is come, whey it in a butter cloth very well, then breake it small with some good cream.
1885 O. Wilde
My wife has a huge bill against you—for your meat-safe and the buttercloth.
1910 H. B. Wilkinson x. 88
Shipments of salt Cork butter packed in butter-cloth and surrounded by salt and pickle, were made to the Antipodes.
1999 B. Ciletti 46
Pour the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth or buttercloth.
butter cooler n. a container used for keeping butter cool.
1784 29 Nov.
1875 G. H. Lewes II. 135
The china service and glass butter-cooler.
3 Dec. 49
A skilled thrower making, among other items, small jugs, porridge bowls, egg-bakers, soup pots, eggcups, butter coolers and jam pots.
butter cow n. a cow yielding rich cream from which superior butter can be made.
1819 18 Aug.
Guernsey Butter Cows.
We..believe that the Jersey as a butter cow has the advantage of at least the average life time of man.
1916 15 Sept. 241/1
She is a wonderful butter cow, and..her descendants ought to prove very valuable.
1980 54 330
Other Chelsea meetings witnessed debates on..whether Jerseys or Holsteins made the superior butter cow.
butter cross n. a cross, spire, or covered building within a marketplace, indicating the area designated for the sale of dairy foods and other home produce.
1677 R. Thoroton
1883 F. Marryat III. 170
Their old-world institutions and buildings—their butter crosses and market steps.
10 Nov. 54
In the centre of the village is the ancient Butter Cross dating from the days when this was a bustling market town.
butter curler n. a serrated kitchen utensil used to shave butter to make decorative, curled shapes.
1868 Sept. 222/2
Variety of butter prints for farm and private houses, boxwood butter beaters and slices, butter curlers, boards, trainers, skimmers, laders.
1938 6 July 19
This ingeniously simple butter curler costs only sixpence.
2013 O. Zanini De Vita & M. B. Fant 105
Using a butter curler or small knife, curl or scrape all the butter and strew the pieces evenly over a plate.
butter factor n. now hist. a tradesman who buys butter from farmers to sell wholesale.
1696 L. Meriton lxxv. 55
On butter buyers or factors.
1808 C. Vancouver viii. 230
The butter-factors at Honiton.
1908 15 Feb. 7/3
A Dublin butter factor stated yesterday that not being able to buy Irish butter a fortnight ago he bought danish at 1s. 1½d. a pound wholesale.
2016 27 May
Now there would be less than 20 suppliers in the area and the butter factor is long gone.
butterfat n. the natural fat contained in milk and dairy products.Butterfat is a mixture of triglycerides, particularly those derived from fatty acids such as palmitic, oleic, myristic, and stearic acids.
1871 3 June 759/1
Whilst genuine butter ought to contain upwards of 83 per cent. of real butter fat, certain kinds of butter contain very much less.
1906 June 612
If wanting in butter-fat, it [sc. milk] was not fit for the purpose for which it had been sold.
1998 21 Nov. (Weekend Suppl.) 78/1
You can sometimes find cream with a butterfat content as low as 12 per cent, but single cream normally has 18 per cent, and double cream 48 per cent.
11 Sept. (Travel section) 8/2
The secret to the superiority of the cheese in this region..is the high butterfat content of the milk produced by brown swiss cows.
butter knife n. a blunt knife used for cutting or spreading butter.
1729 R. Bradley iii. 190
Many other necessary Utensils are made of Horn; as Spoons, Butter-Knives, &c.
1870 ‘F. Fern’ 54
Some houses contain only silver soup-ladles, others a superabundance of butter-knives.
2011 J. Feather xvii. 351
Her mother contented herself by attacking her toast with the butter knife.
butter lamp n. a goblet-shaped lamp with a central wick, traditionally fed with clarified butter instead of oil.Used especially as a devotional offering in Tibetan Buddhist temples.
[Compare Chinese sūyóu dēng (18th cent. or earlier; < sūyóu butter + dēng lamp) and Tibetan mar me ( < mar butter + me fire).]
1852 W. Hazlitt tr. E. R. Huc II. ix. 279
At the end of the saloon were three colossal statues of Buddha, before which were placed large butter lamps [Fr. lampes à beurre] and censers.
1883 J. Gilmour vi. 83
The altar on which a butter-lamp was then burning.
2006 D. Trussoni
Hundreds of plaques (embossed with prayers) stood next to black-and-white photographs. Incense and butter lamps burned below them.
† butter-letter n. Obsolete a letter issued on ecclesiastical authority giving permission to eat butter in Lent.
1873 R. B. Drummond II. xiii. 15
In Switzerland the Pope's pardons were commonly known as ‘butter-letters’, it being understood that their chief effect was to permit people to eat butter and eggs upon fast days.
1893 25 Feb. 5/3
In Italy, butter is prohibited [in Lent]... The Northerners, however,..would have none of this, and special ‘butter-letters’ were consequently dispatched to them from the obliging Vatican.
(a) a man who makes or sells butter;
†(b) Nautical a topsail schooner whose topgallant yard is raised and lowered by halyards as required, rather than forming a fixed part of the vessel's rigging; cf. (obsolete).Recorded earliest as a surname.
1296–7 in L. M. Midgley
Et de 2s. de domo que fuit Ricardi buttermon.
1301 in W. Brown
1581 in J. D. Marwick
Gilbert Primrose, butterman.
1758 28 Apr. 82
It is directed ‘to the reverend Mr. Hurden in Clare market, cheesemonger and butterman, London’.
1885 26 Nov. 8/4
‘There,’ said I one day, pointing to a very smart schooner that was passing, ‘goes a pretty little vessel.’ ‘Aye,’ answered the 'longshoreman whom I had addressed, ‘a butterman.’
1925 I. Gershwin Ukulele Lorelei
Beggar man and duke, Butter men from Dubuque, Ev'ryone surrenders when you play your uke.
2000 6 June i. 17/1
Yesterday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) deleted coal pickers, buttermen..and several other manual jobs from its official list of occupations.
† butter mark n. Obsolete a stamp of carved wood for marking butter pats.
(BL Add. 15562)
A Buttir marke.
1735 J. Atkins 66
The Impress of a Butter mark on Putty.
1857 7 Feb.
Dairy utensils, viz., barrel churn, wood bowl, butter-mark, sieve..cans, &c.
butter market n.
(a) an area or building in a marketplace designated for the sale of dairy goods and other home produce (now chiefly hist.); (now usually) an area or building in a city or town formerly used for this purpose;
(b) the economic sector concerned with commercial dealings in butter.
1615 J. Stephens 267
You must conceiue amisse of the shambles, or butter-market vpon her honesty.
1754 R. Denson v. 131
The butter market has nothing remarkable but a square building where goods are weighed.
1849 4 Jan.
We believe that, especially in our large cities, one of the most active causes of domestic infelicity lies in the fluctuant state of the butter market.
1917 5 Nov. 8/4
At the Carlisle butter market on Saturday there were tumultuous scenes caused by the shortage of butter supplies and an attempt by dealers to buy wholesale.
1992 Sept. 189/2
The open-sided buttermarket with a fine beamed ceiling, is in the centre of the town.
(U.S. Dept. Agric.)
27 July 5/2
Butter markets are expected to remain unsettled.
butter mould n. a hollow container, often of a decorative design, in which butter is left to set so that it assumes the container's shape.
1834 Oct. 168
Churns of mahogany, and butter-moulds of satin-wood were seen in one place.
1932 L. I. Wilder ii. 23
On the loose bottom of the wooden butter-mold was carved the picture of a strawberry with two strawberry leaves.
2001 C. H. Wendel 57/1
Likewise, such items as butter molds are often very expensive when made of wood.
†(a) a Dutchman (obsolete);
(b) a person who disarms and persuades others through the artful, ingratiating, or disingenuous use of language.In sense with reference to the fact that the Dutch were regarded as prolific eaters of butter (cf. and ).First used in quot. as the humorous first name of a fictitious casuist.
[Compare earlier, probably independent, use as a personal name or nickname in Middle English, as Johannem Butermuth (1218), Rob. Buttermouth (1327).]
a1549 A. Borde
I am a Flemyng, what for all that?.. ‘Buttermouth Flemyng’, men doth me call.
1617 F. Moryson iii. i. iii.50
Because they [sc. the Netherlanders] feede much on butter, they are called butter mouthes.
1865 26 Apr. 533/2
The said book, nevertheless, is not to be understood literally, to mean what it says or say what it means, but it must be subjected to the spiritualizing and commentating process of modern priests, such as the Rev. Buttermouth Poundtext.
1896 1 Nov.
He's too gol-dang polite, that feller is; I don't like such butter-mouth chaps.
2004 M. T. Anderson in M. McCafferty 282
I held out my hand. I said, ‘Any friend of Pyrrho's is a friend of ours.’ Dipsus sprang back. ‘Don't you try that on Dipsus, butter-mouth!’
butter muslin n. a thin, loosely woven cloth with a fine mesh used for various purposes, esp. to wrap butter and to strain the whey from the curd during cheese-making; (also) a piece of such cloth.
1884 29 May 174/2
The top of tub of butter is smoothed, a clean piece of ‘butter-muslin’ is neatly laid on.
1906 C. W. Walker-Tisdale & T. R. Robinson 55
Place a damp butter-muslin over the roller and butter-board.
2003 E. Powell tr. S. Jamal 42
If the cucumber is large, you must put the slices in some butter muslin or a colander to get rid of the juice, squeezing them with your hands.
butter oil n.
(a) oil obtained from butter; (in later use spec.) oil obtained by processing butter to remove water and milk solids;
(b) a refined oil obtained from cotton seed, used to make margarine (now hist. and rare).
1844 J. F. W. Johnston
Butter oil. The liquid fat expressed from butter has the appearance of an oil, sometimes colourless, but often tinged of a yellow colour.
1881 9 Dec.
Cotton Butter Oil, Manufactured from Refined Cotton Seed Oils.
1902 §41. 5
One great outlet for cottonseed oil is its use in the manufacture of oleomargarine, or, as it is commonly known, butterine. The quality of oil used for this purpose is that known as butter oil.
1911 7 121
It [sc. evaporated milk] should contain no added butter or butter oil incorporated either with whole milk or skimmed milk..at any stage of manufacture.
1922 12 Aug. 35/1
Cottonseed Oils..Union Choice Butter Oil, Supreme White Butter Oil.
1929 Sept. 50
Refiners of White butter oil—Yellow cooking oil—Salad oil.
1998 Mar. 46/4
Suppliers of butter, butteroil and fractionates, sweetened condensed milk and a full range of standard and specialised milk powders.
butter paper n. any of various types of semi-transparent waterproof paper used in cooking or to wrap food; (also) a piece of such paper.
1727 E. Smith 131
Butter Papers three double, one white, two brown.
1898 J. A. E. Roundell x. 386
All Sandwiches which have to be packed either for sportsmen or for travellers should be packed in butter paper.
2016 24 Sept. (Weekend) 15
At home he would cook it [sc. venison] gently in a pan, then protect it with butter paper and place it in a 150C/gas 2 oven.
† butter-quean n. derogatory Obsolete a woman who makes or sells butter, characterized as garrulous, argumentative, and bad-tempered.Cf. For a similar derogatory portrayal of female butter sellers, see quots. , and
1613 T. Jackson i. ii. §3. viii. 162
This Synode vseth this Apology better beseeming a scolding butter queane then such as should be reuerend Fathers.
1650 H. More 44
You..bark and scold into the air (that is in general) more cursedly and bitterly then any butter-quean.
1693 T. Rymer sig. H3v
His words flow in abundance; no Butter-Quean can be more lavish.
1752 11 Oct. 180
Each scolded, as bad, as a—Butter-Quean Woman.
butter-rigged adj. Nautical designating a topsail schooner whose topgallant yard is raised and lowered by halyards as required, rather than forming a fixed part of the vessel's rigging; cf.
[So called because this type of craft was commonly used by traders to carry butter from the Netherlands.]
1881 W. C. Russell III. iv. 121
The little wooden cabin of a butter-rigged schooner.
1885 26 Nov. 8/4
A butter-rigged schooner's a vessel that sets her t'gall't sail flying. The yard comes down on the taw'sa'l yard, and the sails is furled together.
1948 B. Lubbock in C. E. Fayle et al. iv. 95
There are probably few people today who can say what was meant by a butter-rigged schooner. A butter-rigged schooner set her topgallant sail flying; the topgallant yard had no lifts, and when the sail had to be taken in the yard was lowered down on to the topsail yard, and the sail furled in with the topsail.
butter salt n. now hist. fine common salt in small crystals obtained by rapid evaporation of brine, used in salting butter.
The Dutch prepare two kinds of refined salt, the one of a small grain, which they call butter salt, which is for domestic use.
1884 R. Holland
Butter salt, salt-making term. A fine boiled salt, not stoved, used specially for making up butter.
2016 30 iv. 24/3
Salt-producers in Cheshire in the early decades of the 1900s made..dairy or butter salt.
butter scale n. (in singular and plural) a device used for weighing butter; (also, in singular) the pan or surface on which butter is placed in scales consisting of two pans and a beam.
1615 E. S. sig. Bv
Wodden Butter-scales a paire.
?1801 1 No. 4. 357
The butter scales are then taken out of the salt water..and evenly balanced with butter.
1845 17 Sept. 24/3
He then took a lump of the forfeited butter from the basket, and put it in a scale against a pound weight, and up flew the butter scale.
1849 26 Jan. 2/5
John Sinclair, provision dealer, 7, Wood-street, 1 dr. [=dram] copper under butter scale, £1.
2001 18 Aug. (Weekend FT section) p. iv/3
His uncle's farm shop used flat, fossilised remains of sea urchins as weights for the butter-scales.
butter scoop n. a wooden scoop used to extract butter from a churn or container.
(J. Braxton, Auctioneer)
A paste mould, and eight scollop shells. Three ditto with handles, a turnip, and butter scoop.
1872 O. W. Holmes i. 2
As the market people run a butter-scoop through a firkin.
1995 A. McAllister in J. Dailey et al.
‘And that,’ she said as the woman picked up a hand-size squared-off wooden scoop, ‘is a butter scoop.’
butter slide n. a surface which, as a practical joke, has been lubricated with butter (or occasionally other substances) so that it is too slippery to walk on; also fig.
1843 12 Aug. 72/1
Nor shall the clown in future make butter slides before the doors of respectable shopkeepers,..to throw down those customers by whom they get a livelihood.
1887 O. Wilde in 2 Mar. 207/2
He met with a severe fall, through treading on a butter-slide, which the twins had constructed.
1927 W. E. Collinson 20
Ice to make slides (if very slippery sometimes called a butterslide).
1953 N. Frye in 6 443
This determinism is then projected historically as the Great Western Butterslide,..which..has finally landed us all in that Pretty Pass in which we are today.
18 Oct. 54
Boisterous singing and often dangerous horseplay (‘butter slides’ et al.) brighten up dull days, of which there are many.
butter spade n.
(a) a wooden spatula used to work butter; a small shovel used to remove butter from a churn or container;
(b) a wooden paddle used (as one of a pair) to shape butter; a butter pat ().
1851 H. Stephens & J. P. Norton II. 279/2
A butter spade of a shape long used in a dairy, the face being 4 inches square, and the handle 4 inches long.
1906 Jan. 119/1
An old Dublin butter-spade with ivory handle.
A 70-year-old pair of butter spades, a family heirloom that comes with the story of the lost art of making bespoke butter pats.
butter stamp n. an engraved wooden block used to imprint decorative motifs on butter; a butter print ().
1820 4 Feb. 67/4
1926 9 372
An iron kettle, butter stamp, snuff box, spectacles, and articles of clothing.
2011 P. Shelton xvii. 174
At the end of the machine, on large worktables, were butter stamps that pressed designs into finished butter.
† butter stick n. Obsolete a wooden implement used to work butter.
1830 8 364
This milk is then beaten with a kind of butter stick, and poured into an earthen pot or other vessel.
It is then beaten and worked well with a butter stick or paddle several different times in the course of the day untill [sic] all the fluid is pressed out.
butter substitute n. any of various substances used as a spread or in cooking as an alternative to butter, esp. one simulating its properties.
1834 16 Oct.
Imperial Jambonade (or Butter Substitute).
1906 June 607
What are termed ‘butter-substitutes’,—in other words, fraudulent adulterants.
1955 B. C. L. Kemp
For many years butter substitutes have been in use under the collective name of margarine.
2017 @KatherineHunt15 5 Feb. in twitter.com
Always had a spreadable butter substitute in our refrigerator until my husband showed me an article on how it's made.
butter tongs n. a pair of tongs used for picking up and transferring butter.
1866 15 Aug. 236/3
In combination with the plates or pads, D, of the butter tongs, as described, I claim the indentations or ridges, c, formed in or upon said plates, as and for the purposes set forth.
1913 Dec. 7/2
In the pantry of Greene's Hotel, Philadelphia, there is a big sign which reads: Keep fingers off butter. Use butter tongs.
2004 D. Cosper 15
Who cares, I argued, whether I eat my salad with the salad fork or the oyster fork or the butter tongs?
butter trier n. U.S. a metal implement consisting of a long tube or curved blade used for taking samples of butter in order to assess its freshness and consistency.
1825 21 Dec. 1/2
Cheese and butter Tryers.
1923 July 2/1
Special Butter Trier for cold storage work, extra heavy, with brass handle.
2009 R. L. Bradley & M. Smukowski in S. Clark et al.
The judge should grasp the butter trier firmly in hand and insert the sampling device as near as possible to the center of the butter sample.
Butter Week n. a festival celebrated by Eastern Slavic countries and communities, esp. those belonging to the Orthodox Church, in the week preceding Great Lent.Meat is prohibited during Butter Week, and it is the last week that dairy products can be consumed prior to the Lent fast.
[After Old Russian, Russian Maslenica (1543 or earlier; < maslenyj (adjective) of or relating to butter + -ica suffix forming nouns); compare also the considerably rarer Maslenaja nedelja, lit. ‘butter week’ (14th cent. or earlier).]
1589 A. Jenkinson in R. Hakluyt ii. 337
The weeke before Shroftide, they call the Butter weeke.
1762 P. Murdoch tr. A. F. Büsching I. 384
The Butter-week..when eating of flesh is forbidden and butter is allowed, is the week immediately preceding the great Fast of Lent.
1843 tr. J. G. Kohl II. xxv. 136
‘Forgive me! it is the Butter-week!’ is the excuse invariably pleaded by every tipsy person.
2013 @ATasteOfUkraine 16 Mar. in twitter.com
Have you had a chance to stop by and celebrate Butter week with us today? We have fresh hot blini.
† butter weight n. Obsolete the full measure of something and then some; lit. a measure of butter in which the quantities used exceed customary units.Prior to the mid 19th cent. butter was often sold at a rate of 18 ounces to the pound (or above); cf. note at .
1733 Swift 28
Yet, why should we be lac'd so straight; I'll give my [monarch] Butter-weight.
1829 1 355
The largest size should not exceed 84 lb. gross, or 3 stones Aberdeen butter weight, that being the size used in Ireland, and most convenient and saleable in the London market.
1878 23 Nov. 410/1
Butter-weight means full legal weight and something more.
1906 11 May
Be sure to give me butter weight, now, for I've been a long time customer of yours.
† butter whore n. Obsolete a woman who makes or sells butter, characterized as garrulous, argumentative, and bad-tempered.Cf. For a similar derogatory portrayal of female butter sellers, see quots. , and
1592 T. Nashe sig. G3v
Thou arrant butterwhore, thou cotqueane, & scrattop of scoldes.
1680 M. Stevenson 111
Foaming at mouth, think how I rore, And bait thee like a Butter-whore.
1776 J. Leacock iv. vii. 52
Scolding and quarrelling like a parcel of damn'd butter whores.
butter wife n. now hist. a woman who makes or sells butter; cf.
?1542 H. Brinkelow vi. sig. B8
Not so moch as the poore butter wife, but she is spoyled.
1639 J. Clarke 275
To scould like butter-wives.
1891 J. M. Barrie
The stones on which the butter wives sat have disappeared, and with them the clay walls and the outside stairs.
2014 W. T. Vollmann 405
Butterwives who'd sold their fat sweet cows for next to nothing.
butter-woman n. now hist. a woman who makes or sells butter; cf.
1612 J. Webster sig. D3
Reapers and Butter-women, amongst Fishmongers And thousand other trades, which are annoyed By his excessiue heate.
iv. i. 41
Tongue, I must put you into a Butter-womans mouth..if you prattle mee into these perilles.
1748 H. Walpole 3 Sept.
He there made her discover her family, a butter woman in Craven Street.
1883 24 Feb. 87
The five Royal Commissioners in their butterwoman's cloaks.
2007 P. Doherty v. 125
Two butter-women involved in a shouting match over who should sell their goods where.
butter worker n. a hand-operated device for pressing the buttermilk out of butter, consisting of a roller or paddle attached to a tray fashioned to allow drainage.
1839 W. W. Townsend 74
We have used his butter-worker and churn for some years.
1885 J. J. Manley in 18
The butter-milk and water are carefully pressed out in one of Bradford's butter workers.
25 Sept. b1
‘It squishes all the liquid out of it,’ Elijah explained as he turned the crank on an antique butter worker.
butter working n. the removal of moisture from butter; (also) the moulding of butter into pats or decorative forms.
1843 Ann. Rep. Commissioner Patents 1842 113
in (27th Congr., 3rd Sess.: House of Representatives Doc. 109) II
Butter-working, machines for.
1906 25 Sept. 2/6
One is reluctantly obliged to conclude that butter-working is a lost art amongst grocers' assistants.
2016 V. B. Alvarez in R. C. Chandan et al.
Observable patches or streaks of butter with a darker or lighter shade of yellow are the main characteristics of this defect. Insufficient butter working will cause this problem.
butter yellow n. now hist. a yellow azo dye derived from dimethylaniline, used as a food additive.
1887 31 Oct. 657
Butter yellow. Aniline-azodimethyl-aniline.
1956 24 Mar. 576/2
Rat liver tumours induced by butter yellow.
2014 H. Stoff in T. Ortiz-Gómez & M. J. Santesmases
In the case of butter yellow, not only the..biochemical experts but also the women's organisations, reacted strongly against the azo dye.
In the names of plants and animals.Cf. , , , , , , etc.
butter and eggs n. any of various plants having flowers in two shades of yellow; esp. yellow toadflax, Linaria vulgaris.
1756 J. Hill 109/1
Linaria vulgaris. Our common people, from the mixture of a very pale and deep yellow, call it Butter and eggs.
1880 R. Jefferies 83
In shady woodlands the toadflax or butter-and-eggs is often pale,—a sulphur colour.
1930 No. 274. 23/1
Jonquils, butter and eggs, narcissus, tiger lilies 25c–12; $1.50–100.
2008 17 July (Extra section) 9
The gorgeous yellow and orange of this snap-dragon-like flower has earned it the nickname Butter and Eggs.
butter and tallow tree n. now rare a large evergreen West African tree, Pentadesma butyracea (family Clusiaceae), with seeds yielding a solid fat used as a source of food; also called butter tree, tallow tree.
Butter and Tallow Tree. This is common in low lands about Freetown.
1896 Let. 4 Apr. in
(Royal Gardens, Kew)
No. 130. 312
I have the honour to forward by this mail steamer, a box containing seeds of Pentadesma butyracea, the butter and tallow tree of Sierra Leone.
1911 Nov. 142/1
The butter and tallow tree sometimes attains a height of seventy feet.
2006 J. F. DeMouthe iv. 89
In western Africa, Pentadesma butyracea is called the tallow tree or the butter-and-tallow tree because the oil derived from its fruit is used like butter.
† butter-back n. U.S. Obsolete the bufflehead duck, Bucephala albeola, which acquires a layer of fat in the autumn.Cf. , , .
1791 W. Bartram ii. x. 295
A[nas] minor picta; the little black and white duck called butterback.
1796 J. Morse
Little black and white duck, called Butter Back (Anas minor picta).
1925 J. C. Phillips III. 334
Vernacular Names. English: Buffle-head, Butter-ball, Butter Duck, Butter-back, Butter-box, [etc.].
butter bird n. chiefly Caribbean (now rare) the bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus, which was formerly used as food.
1790 II. 90
It is of the size of a large pigeon and as fat as a butter bird, but its flavour is peculiar.
1883 26 Dec.
They [sc. bobolinks]..grow so fat that they receive the name of ‘butter birds’.
1956 M. Jeffrey-Smith 77
Not many would recognise the Bobolink of Canada..as our own Butter Bird or October Pink.
2014 W. Young vii. 19
Bobolinks used to be called butter birds by hunters who killed the fat birds for meat, especially in the Caribbean.
(a) U.S. the buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis;
(b) Austral. any of several pittosporums native to Australia; spec. Pittosporum phillyraeoides, which has hard, pale timber, yellow flowers, and orange fruit with dark red seeds; cf.
1843 J. Torrey I. 313
Cephalanthus occidentalis, Linn. Butter-bush, or Pond-Dogwood.
1885 J. E. Brown v. 25
Pittosporum phillyræoides (De Candolle). The Poison-Berry Tree... In the far north,..it is called ‘Butter Bush’.
1936 I. L. Idriess xxviii. 252
The rabbits had killed all the white wood, apple-bush and butter-bush.
(U.S. Dept. Interior)
Under story—greenbriar, Virginia willow, sweet pepperbush, butter bush and large gallberry.
11 June 52
The butterbush—a native pittosporum—is extremely drought and frost tolerant but can become a pest in protected and tropical areas.
butter clam n. chiefly Canad. a large edible bivalve mollusc, Saxidomus gigantea (family Veneridae), occurring off the Pacific coasts of North America.
[Apparently so called on account of its suitability for eating.]
1899 1 Apr. 4/2
Oyster creek empties into the bay and the butter clam is found along the beach.
1957 M. Sharcott 79
They were fat butter clams, four or five inches across the shell, but there weren't enough of them.
2006 Sept. 52/1
You tell them, I want a butter clam, a horse clam, a littleneck, and they'll go get them.
† butter-cutter n. Obsolete rare a small insect that attacks plant shoots.
[An error for .]
[1693 J. Evelyn tr. J. de La Quintinie ii. v. x. 100
To have the end of their new Shoots..cut off by a little black round Insect, call'd Bud-Cutter.]
1704 G. London & H. Wise
II. v. x. 162
The end of their new Shoots intirely cut off by a little black round Insect, called Butter-cutter.
† butterdew n. Obsolete a dark greenish or yellowish-brown gelatinous substance found on damp ground, probably colonies of the cyanobacteria Nostoc (see ).Nostoc swells up when exposed to moisture and therefore becomes more visible after wet weather. For this reason, it was formerly believed to be a type of rain or dew.Also called witches' butter.
For a good part of last Winter and Spring, there fell in several places, a kind of thick Dew, which the Country People called Butter, from the Consistency and Colour of it.]
1724 W. Nicolson 14
Bishop Ash's and Mr. Van's account of Butter-Dew, &c. 1695, 1696.
1841 23 Oct. 700/3
This Butterdew is probably of the same nature as that substance which in Scotland is called Witch's-butter.
butterdock n. any of several dock plants (genus Rumex), esp. R. obtusifolius, having large leaves which were formerly used to wrap butter; (also occasionally) the common butterbur, Petasites vulgaris.Cf.
1688 R. Holme ii. vi. §xxv. 102/2
Butter Dock, or Rubarbe,..having a large crumpled leaf..with long stalks.
1807 T. Martyn
II. ii. at Rumex
R[umex] acutus... The leaves were formerly much used for wrapping up butter; and that hence this species was commonly known by the name of Butter Dock.
1950 C. Porteous v. 53
By the stream a robust display of butter docks, their plump blossoms just freshly out and their leaves unworn.
2002 18 Jan. 10/5
Butterbur, also known as exwort, bog rhubarb and butterdock, grows in Europe, north Africa and south west Asia.
butter-duck n. U.S. a duck that acquires a layer of fat in the autumn; esp. the bufflehead, Bucephala albeola.Cf. , , .
1853 F. A. Pulszky & T. W. Pulszky II. iv. 115
Dark butterducks, disturbed by the paddling of the steamer, flutter up in advance of the boat.
1857 J. G. Swan 357
The Colonel saw a ‘butter-duck’ in a shallow creek... These ducks are the black surf-duck (Fuligula perspicillata).
Ringneck ducks, lesser scaup, redheads, and buffleheads (or butter ducks as some old-timers call them), probably frequent small ponds more than any other species of diving ducks.
2006 N. Vida
He watched the prairie dogs flick out of their burrows and the cranes and quail and butter-ducks flutter across the tree-shrouded stream.
butterflip n. now rare and chiefly hist. the avocet, Recurvirostra avosetta.
[The motivation for the name is unclear.]
1802 G. Montagu at Avocet—Scooping
Provincial [names]. Butter-flip. Scooper. Yelper. Picarini. Crooked-bill. Cobler's-awl.
1905 A. R. Forbes ii. 234
Avocet... Avoset; Black and white avocet, butterflip; Clinker, cobbler's awl or awlduck.
1961 94 249
Among the names of birds, for instance, there is the ‘butterflip’ (Recurvirostra avocetta).
butter fruit n.
[in sense after Malay buah mentega ( < buah fruit + mentega butter)]
(a) a tropical persimmon tree native to the Philippines and Sri Lanka, Diospyros discolor, which produces a reddish-brown fruit with velvety skin and pale flesh;
(b) an avocado; = .
1902 1 532
The Butter fruit, Mabola of the Philippines, Diospyros discolor... The flesh [of the fruit] is cream coloured, and when properly ripened is of the softness of butter, whence its name.
1902 (Boletin de la Sociedad Agricola Mexicana) 3
Ahuacate chico.—Persea gratissima. Gaert var.—Vegetable butter fruit.—Fruit d'avocatier.
1927 Oct. 305/3
The ‘butter-fruit’ salad which you so much enjoy today will, doubtless, be far inferior to the brand which will be consumed by your children in the years to come.
1987 (U.S. Dept. Agric. Handbk. No. 642) viii. 239
The mabolo (also known as velvet apple and butter fruit), Diospyros disolor Willd. (family Ebenaceae), is perhaps the best of the tropical persimmons.
2015 J. S. Denker 30
It has been variously called alligator pear, avocado pear, butter fruit, and butter pear.
butterhead n. (more fully butterhead lettuce) any of several varieties of lettuce typically having a head of loosely bunched, tender leaves with a sweet, mild flavour; = The names butter, Boston, and bibb lettuce are often used interchangeably.
1840 Dec. 468
Lettuce of yellow Butterhead, Palantine, and white Cos kinds.
1928 No. 176. 48
Big Boston, the best variety of butterhead lettuce for New York.
Butterheads are gaining precedence here. Their gently folded heads of butter-flavored undulating leaves are prized for delicate texture and flavor that melts in your mouth.
2007 13 July (times2 Section) 10/4
I usually follow with a floppy butterhead lettuce salad to wipe round the plate.
† butterjags n. Eng. regional Obsolete either of two leguminous plants with yellow flowers, bird's-foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, and yellow medick, Medicago falcata.
[The second element is probably the plural of , perhaps on account of the resemblance of the flowers to the garments described at .]
1691 J. Ray N. Country Words in
Butter-jags, the Flowers of the Trifolium siliqua cornuta.
1776 W. Withering II. 461
Yellow Medick. Butterjags.
1815 XIII. 682/2
Lotus corniculata... In Yorkshire it is said to be called cheesecake-grass, and in some other counties, butterjags, and crow-toes.
1903 21 Mar. 375/2
The mere clumsiness of such titles as ‘Butter-jags’ for the lady's slipper [sc. bird's-foot trefoil]..carries a ring of genuineness.
butter leaves n. now hist. and rare either of two herbaceous plants having (large) leaves which were formerly used to wrap butter: garden orache, Atriplex hortensis, and monk's rhubarb, Rumex alpinus; (also) the leaves themselves; cf.
1789 W. Marshall I. 285
What the dairywomen call ‘butter leaves’; namely, the leaves of the Atriplex hortensis, or garden orach; which dairywomen in general sow in their gardens, annually, for this purpose [i.e. for packing butter in].
1878 W. Dickinson
Butter leaves, the leaves of the mountain dock, Rumex alpinus, used for packing pounds of butter in the market-basket.
1933 Nov. 74/3
Orach is a tall, somewhat branched annual formerly grown as a green. Its other English names are Butter Leaves, and Mountain Spinach.
2016 E. Khosrova i. v. 97
Provincially called butter leaves, the plant was sown annually in the garden just for the purpose of enveloping and protecting butter.
butter lettuce n. any of several varieties of lettuce typically having a head of loosely bunched, tender leaves with a sweet, mild flavour; =
1828 Oct. 239/1
I sow about the 10th of September, seed of the White Dutch, Simpson's Selisias, and the Butter or Lazey Lettuce.
1 large head butter lettuce, broken in bite-sized pieces.
2011 8 May b2/
Butter lettuce is very fragile. Select unwilted leaves with no signs of damage or yellowing.
butter pear n.
(a) any of several varieties of pear which have sweet, juicy flesh with a soft, buttery texture; = ;
(b) an avocado; = .
[In sense after Middle French, French beurré , lit. ‘buttered’, in similar use (see ).]
1600 R. Surflet tr. C. Estienne & J. Liébault iii. xlix. 537
Garden, tender and delicate peares, such as..butter peare [Fr. beurree].
1719 G. London & H. Wise
The Burree..It's call'd the Butter Pear, because of its smooth, delicious, melting soft Pulp.
1861 18 Sept.
Mrs. George Liggett..exhibited a dish of butter pears..—a fruit of surpassing beauty as well as flavor.
1886 18 222
The gardens were..enclosed in high walls, above which rose the rich dark foliage of the ‘butter-pear’ and evergreen trees.
1947 C. M. Wilson iii. 31
The Liberian ‘butter pear’..makes all other avocados seem insipid.
1997 May 78/1
A couple of French butter pears with prosciutto de Parma and goat cheese before bed.
Also known as ‘butter pears’, avocados are actually large berries belonging to the same plant family as cinnamon and camphor.
† butter-root n. Obsolete the common butterwort, Pinguicula vulgaris.
1597 J. Gerard ii. 645
In Yorkshire..it is called Butterwoorts, Butter roote, and white roote.
1791 E. Baylis xxvii. 386
Usually Sanicula eboracensis, or Yorkshire Sanicle... It is termed in English Butter-wort, and Butter-root, because of the unctuosity of the leaves.
1901 J. Weathers ii. 729/2
P. vulgaris (Bog Violet; Butter-root). A pretty British and Irish species, with bluntly oblong fleshy leaves.
butter tree n. any of various tropical or subtropical trees having seeds from which a soft, oily fat is obtained; esp. shea, Vitellaria paradoxa; cf. shea butter tree: see the first element.
1798 16–19 Jan.
There is another tree, which he [sc. Mr. Park] calls the butter-tree, because the kernels of its nuts afford a substance exactly resembling butter.
1808 W. Roxburgh in 19 Suppl. 372
A botanical and economical account of Bassia butyracea, or the East India Butter Tree.
1912 24 Feb. 175/1
To the plants yielding such oils has been applied the name of ‘butter-trees’.
23 July (Travel section) 9
Products are made using natural-origin, organic-certified shea butter extracted from the kernels of butter trees (Butyrospermum parkii).
butterweed n. any of various herbaceous plants of the family Asteraceae, esp. of the genera Erigeron and Senecio, which are native to the Americas and have yellow flowers; also with distinguishing word.
1800 W. Dalrymple 41
If Wheat, on Strong land, be sown too early, Black Bents and Butterweed will make their growth.
1911 60 65/2
Erigeron Canadensis, called by the Canadians by the names of ‘Fleabane’, the name in England of E[rigeron] acre; and ‘Butter-weed’.
17 Oct. n4
The grasses begin to flatten into a dense mat patterned with yellow clumps of butterweed.
2004 C. Gurche 79
Dwarf mountain butterweed, also a yellow composite, flourishes in the rocky rubble.
in the names of various substances resembling butter in appearance or consistency.
butter of almonds n. now hist. a creamy dessert made with sweetened ground almonds; = .
?c1425 Recipe in
Botyr of Almondes. Take almonde mylke, and let hit boyle, and in the boylinge cast therto a lytel wyn or vynegur.
1754 I. 102/1
Butter of almonds, made by adding blanched almonds to a preparation of cream and the whites of eggs boiled together.
Almonds..were boiled until the liquor became a delicious cream, from which was made the famous butter of almonds.
1956 E. Cavanna & J. Welton 28
One hundred fifty-one almonds were boiled to a cream from which emerged the famous butter of almonds.
butter of cacao n. now chiefly hist. the pale yellow fat extracted from the seeds of cacao or related trees; also called cacao butter, cocoa butter.
1746 tr. J. Astruc 229
An ulcer in the lungs, with some balsams, or butter of cacao.
1887 15 Sept. 12/7
Baker's breakfast cocoa..is made from selected cocoa, with the excess of butter of cacao removed.
1998 40 142/1
A formula by Griffith and Maisch listed..a demulcent butter of cacao mixture for catarrh.
butter of mace n. now rare a fixed oil obtained from nutmegs, occurring as a soft, pale yellow solid; also called nutmeg butter, oil of mace.
1694 W. Salmon ii. iii. 884/1
Add Balsam of Amber ℥j. Butter of Mace ℥ß. Petrolæum, Oil of Spike, A. Ʒij. mix them.
Butter of mace becomes suddenly solid at 33°C.
1965 19 197/1
The fixed oil of nutmegs is known by many names..: nutmeg butter, balsam of nutmegs, oil of mace, butter of mace, banda soap, and Oleum Myristicae Expressum.
† butter of wax n. Obsolete an oil obtained from wax by distillation, occurring as a butter-like solid; also called wax butter.
1662 H. Stubbe 176
After it was cold, it became thick, like to the Oyl or Butter of Wax for consistence.
1735 T. Dallowe tr. H. Boerhaave II. iii. xxxvi. 108
Butter of wax..excellently secures the Skin from being dried and chapp'd in the Winter.
1824 J. C. Loudon
i. ii. 152
Sometimes it [sc. vegetable wax] has the consistency of butter, and is denominated butter of wax, as butter of coco, butter of galam.
b. Chiefly Chemistry. With of and following word. Denoting a chloride of the metal or substance specified, as butter of antimony, butter of arsenic, butter of bismuth, butter of tin, butter of zinc, etc. Now chiefly hist.Used to describe anhydrous chlorides that are soft or oily in texture, with the metal typically in its lowest oxidation state (as antimony( iii) chloride, zinc( ii) chloride, etc.).
1651 J. French iii. 71
Oil or Butter of Antimony.
1674 M. Lister Let. 7 Jan. in H. Oldenburg
I take it to be yt wch van Helmont calls ye Gur or Bur ye butter of Minerals; 'tis in tast sweetish, only it has a vitriolick & iron like twang wth it.
1708 tr. J. P. de Tournefort iv. i. 180
If you pour fair Water upon the Butter of Antimony, you will obtain a very fine white Powder..call'd the Powder of Algaroth.
1785 T. Beddoes tr. T. Bergman xx. 124
That which is collected in the receiver, consists of butter of arsenic, and marine acid unmixed.
1802 R. Chenevix in
The muriatic salts, formerly known by the strange name of butters of the metals.
1812 H. Davy 407
The only known compound, bismuth and chlorine..called butter of bismuth.
1922 T. M. Lowry xliv. 872
Crude zinc chlorine which distils solidifies in the receiver to a soft waxy mass known as butter of zinc.
1940 G. H. J. Adlam & L. S. Price
On adding water, a semi-solid mass is obtained, which contains one or more hydrates of the chloride, e.g. SnCl4.5H2O. This is known as ‘butter of tin’.
In the past, antimony was prescribed as tartar emetic (antimony potassium tartrate) or in veterinary work as butter of antimony.
2002 W. R. Newman & L. M. Principe iii. 104
Corrosive sublimate and antimony (mercuric chloride and antimony trisulphide) were heated together, first providing a distillate of butter of antimony (antimony trichloride).
1600 R. Surflet tr. C. Estienne & J. Liébault iii. lxxxiv. 625
You shall take this butter like matter and put it into the retort hauing first made it very cleane.
1700 W. Salmon
i. ix. 380/2
A Butter-like Oil.
1869 A. R. Wallace I. v. 85
A rich butter-like custard highly flavored with almonds.
1961 M. Waldo i. 28
Bel Paese is the classic ‘mild’ cheese... It has a creamy yellow butterlike consistency.
2006 B. Greene
If you must have some kind of butter-like spread on your toast, look for one of the margarine spreads with labels stating ‘0 g trans fat’.
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This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, September 2018).
In this entry:
In other dictionaries:
- My entries(1)
- butt-cut, n.1806
- butte, n.1805
- butted, adj.1801
- butt end, n.11548
- butt-end, n.2c1620
- butt-end, v.1880
- butt-ended, adj.11850
- butt-ended, adj.21892
- butt-ending, n.1859
- butter, n.1eOE
- butter, n.21370
- butter, n.31474
- butter, n.41611
- butter, n.51850
- butter, v.a1475
- butteraceous, adj.?1795
- butterball, n. and adj.1787
- butter bean, n.1820
- Butterbeer, n.1999
- butter biscuit, n.1758
- butter-bore, n.1686
- butter bowzy, adj.1719
- butterbox, n.1595
- butterbump, n.1671
- butterbur, n.1548
- butter churn, n.1577
- butter colour | butt...1629
- butter-coloured | bu...1629
- buttercream, n.1658
- buttercup, n. and adj.1497–8
- buttercupped, adj.1832
- buttercuppy, adj.1871
- butter dish, n.1559
- buttered, adj.eOE
- butteresse, n.1632
- butterface, n.1998
- butterfingered, adj.1615
- butterfingers, n.1835
- butterfish, n.1673
- butterflower, n.1527