IDIOMS: TO BUTTER SOMEONE UP

Sliced bread to toast isolated on pink background. Close up. Top viewFlattery will get you everywhere, as the saying goes, although if you overdo it, it can have the opposite effect! The idiom ‘to butter someone up’ means to flatter or praise them excessively in order to receive a favour in return. You could say, for example: “Ben buttered me up by praising my work, then asked him if he could borrow my car.” Or “Jenny buttered up her boss in the hope of a pay rise.” There are two possible origins of this idiom. It may come from actually spreading creamy butter on a slice of bread, which can be compared to ‘spreading’ nice but superficial words on a person. Others believe it originated in ancient India, where they used to throw balls of butter at statues of gods to ask for a favour.

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