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butter plate, n.

Forms:  see butter n.1   and plate n.(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: butter n.1, plate n.
Etymology: < butter n.1 + plate n.
In sense 2   so called on account of the appearance of its flat yellow flowers; compare buttercup n. 2a   and butterflower n.

 1. A plate for butter, spec. a small side plate used for serving bread and butter as an accompaniment to a meal.

1490   in Acts Lords of Council Civil Causes (1839) I. 131/1   A hingand laware a butter plait.
c1600   in Balfour's Practicks (1754) 235   The air sall have..ane butter plait, ane skink-plait, ane beif plait, ane luggit disch.
1753   H. Walpole Let. 16 Aug. in Corr. (1837) I. 203   The butter-plate is not exactly what you ordered, but I flatter myself you will like it as well.
1852   N. Hawthorne Blithedale Romance iv. 39   Grim Silas Foster, all this while, had been busy at the supper-table,..perpetrating terrible enormities with the butter-plate.
1887   Kitchen Garden Nov. 2/2   It saves time in waiting to put butter upon the butter plates before announcing breakfast, but this must not be done in warm weather.
1935   Motor Boating Jan. 51   He dropped a roll from his butter plate to the floor.
1963   M. Vasiliu Which Way to Melting Pot? xxi. 293   Oh, Mother. Of course I won't have paper napkins... No, I won't forget the water goblets... Butter plates too... Everything will be ready ahead of time.
2014   Washington Post (Nexis) 12 Feb. e4   If I could tell margarine from butter, I would be allowed to eat from the butter plate.

1490—2014(Hide quotations)


 2. Eng. regional. Lesser spearwort, Ranunculus flammula, which has solitary yellow flowers with horizontal petals. Now hist. and rare.

1853   G. Johnston Terra Lindisfarnensis I. 26   Ranunculus Flammula, the Butter-Plate, a name expressive of the comparative flatness of the corolla.
1892   R. O. Heslop Northumberland Words   Butter-plate, the spearwort, Ranunculus flammula.
1984   C. M. Fraser in R. Miket & C. Burgess Between & Beyond Walls xxi. 362   Butterplate or spearwort (Ranunculus flammula) was suspected of causing liver-rot in sheep and was best avoided.

1853—1984(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, September 2018).