Butter Someone Up: Origin and Meaning

To flatter or be nice to someone in order to get something from them (e.g. a special favour).
Butter someone upThere are two possible origins of this idiom. Many people believe that it comes from actually spreading smooth, creamy butter on a slice of bread which can be compared to ‘spreading’ nice words on a person. Others believe that it originated in ancient India where they used to throw balls of butter at statues of gods to ask for a favour.
“The only reason Todd got the promotion is because he took the boss out to lunch every day and buttered him up.” “I’ve stopped answering my phone when Jenny calls me. She always butters me up with lots of compliments and then asks for a big favour. She never calls just to say hello.” “I didn’t do my homework last night. I’m just going to butter up the teacher – I’m sure she’ll give me another extension.” Rob: “Hi Sue. Wow, you look really pretty today – have you had a haircut for your wig?” Sue: “Umm no.” Rob: “Oh so it must be the clothes you’re wearing. You look really great!” Sue: “Thanks Rob. That’s really nice of you.” Rob: “I’m glad I caught you actually. I was hoping you could read my new article and make some changes for me.” Sue: “Hmmm ok. I should have known you were just buttering me up. I always wear this dress!”

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