to butter up s/o


to flatter s/o (schmeicheln)

TRANSLATION

butter someone up = jmd. Honig ums Maul (um den Bart/Mund) schmieren

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“Foreign leaders … have sought to BUTTER UP Trump through friendly face time, recognizing that the quickest way to the president’s heart is through his ego.”

Politico dot com

Did you
know?

butter someone up
idiom

- to be very kind or friendly to someone or try to please them, so that they will do what you want them to do

(Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)


ORIGIN

Butter has been used as a metaphor for flattery since the 18th century.

The idea is that by using words we can smooth over our subject in order to persuade someone to do what we want. There’s a common saying “flattery will get you everywhere.”

Butter is a versatile foodstuff though and is reflected in other English idioms:

- someone’s bread and butter = someone’s basic income; someone’s livelihood (Income from translation work is my only bread and butter.)

- fine words butter no parsnips (Pastinake) = just because someone promises something does not guarantee that he or she will do it (Fred apologised and promised not to do it again, but you know, fine words butter no parsnips) — schöne Worte machen den Kohl / das Kraut nicht fett.

- to know which side one’s bread is buttered on = to be aware of where your money comes from; to be loyal to the person or thing that will benefit you the most (Most people won’t criticise their boss. They know which side their bread is buttered on.)

- butter wouldn’t melt in someone’s mouth = to appear to look honest and well-meaning and unable to do anything wrong, but to be in fact the opposite, to be dishonest (Be very careful with Jimmy, butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.)


SYNONYMS for flatter

bootlick, brown-nose, court s/o, fawn over, flannel, grovel, suck up to, sweet talk, tickle s/o’s vanity


SMUGGLE OWAD into today’s conversation

“Tell Michael straight away what you want. He doesn’t like being BUTTERED UP.”


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