Word Geek – Butter someone up
The phrase to “butter someone up” is a well-known expression used to describe the process of flattery, by one person to another, before asking them for something of benefit, e.g. “I knew he was going to ask me for a favour because he spent five minutes buttering me up with compliments.”
The origins of the phrase are less well known and are still disputed to this day, with no one being able to prove the origins of the phrase for certain.
Many claim that the phrase originated from ancient India when people used to throw balls of ghee butter at statues of Gods to seek favour and forgiveness.
There’s an even older custom, originating from Tibet, where people make sculptures out of butter to bring them happiness and peace for the New Year. This too has been linked to the origins of the phrase.
Another theory is that the phrase originated from the imagery of spreading butter across a slice of bread because buttering someone up with compliments is like spreading nice comments on them!
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