Definition: Butter

From New World Encyclopedia

Etymology 1

From Middle English buter, butter, from Old English butere, from Proto-West Germanic *buterā, from Latin būtȳrum, from Ancient Greek βούτῡρον or boútūron (cow cheese), compound of βοῦς or boûs (ox, cow) and τῡρός or tūrós (cheese).


butter (usually uncountable, plural butters)

  1. A soft, fatty foodstuff made by churning the cream of milk (generally cow's milk).
  2. Any of various foodstuffs made from other foods or oils, similar in consistency to, eaten like or intended as a substitute for butter (preceded by the name of the food used to make it).
    Peanut butter has been popular for a long time, but almond butter and other nut-based butters are starting to catch on.
  3. Any of various substances made from other (especially plant-based) oils or fats, used in moisturizers, cosmetics, etc.

Derived terms

  • almond butter
  • apple butter
  • butter-cake
  • butter chicken
  • butterchurn
  • buttercream
  • buttercup
  • butterfat
  • butterhorn
  • butter icing
  • butter knife
  • buttermilk
  • butternut
  • butterscotch
  • buttery
  • cacao butter
  • cocoa butter
  • coconut butter
  • drawn butter
  • garlic butter
  • honey butter
  • peanut butter
  • shea butter

Related terms


butter (third-person singular simple present butters, present participle buttering, simple past and past participle buttered)

  1. To spread butter on.
    Butter the toast.
  2. (skiing, snowboarding) To move one's weight backwards or forwards onto the tips or tails of one's skis or snowboard so only the tip or tail is in contact with the snow. Similar to applying butter to bread with the end of a butterknife.
    1. To spin on skis or a snowboard using only the tips or tails being in contact with the snow

Derived terms

  • buttered
  • buttering
  • butter up

Etymology 2

butt + -er, from Middle English butten, from Anglo-Norman buter, boter (to push, butt, strike), from Frankish *bautan (to hit, beat), from Proto-Germanic *bautaną (to beat, push), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰewd- (to beat, push, strike). Cognate with Old English bēatan (to beat).


butter (plural butters)

  1. Someone who butts, or who butts in.


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