Etymology
Advertisement
butter (n.)
Old English butere "butter, the fatty part of milk," obtained from cream by churning, general West Germanic (compare Old Frisian, Old High German butera, German Butter, Dutch boter), an early loan-word from Latin butyrum "butter" (source of Italian burro, Old French burre, French beurre), from Greek boutyron. This is apparently "cow-cheese," from bous "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow") + tyros "cheese" (from PIE root *teue- "to swell"); but this might 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. In old chemistry, applied to certain substances of buttery consistency. Butter-knife attested from 1818.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
butter (v.)
Old English buterian "spread butter on," from the same source as butter (n.). Figurative meaning "to flatter lavishly" is by 1798 (with up (adv.), in Connelly's Spanish-English dictionary, p.413). Related: Buttered; buttering. To know which side one's bread is buttered on is to be able to take care of oneself.
Related entries & more 
butter-bean (n.)
1819, so called for its color, from butter (n.) + bean (n.).
Related entries & more 
butter-fingered (adj.)
"clumsy in the use of the hands, apt to let things fall," 1610s, from butter (n.) + finger (n.).
Related entries & more 
bread-and-butter (adj.)
"pertaining to basic material needs," from the noun phrase, "one's means of living," 1685, a figurative use of the words for the basic foodstuffs; see bread (n.) + butter (n.). Also, in reference to bread-and-butter as the typical food of young boys and girls, "of the age of growth; school-aged" (1620s).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
butyric (adj.)
"pertaining to or derived from butter," 1823, from stem of Latin butyrum "butter" (see butter (n.)) + -ic.
Related entries & more 
buttery (adj.)
"resembling butter," late 14c., from butter (n.) + -y (2). Related: Butteriness.
Related entries & more 
butterball (n.)
"butter shaped into a ball," also figurative of plumpness, 1892, from butter (n.) + ball (n.1).
Related entries & more 
butty (n.)
"slice of bread and butter," 1855, northern English, from butter (n.) + -y (2).
Related entries & more 
butyl (n.)
hydrocarbon radical, 1855, from butyric acid, a product of fermentation found in rancid butter, from Latin butyrum "butter" (see butter (n.)).
Related entries & more