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To be nice to someone, by flattery or other means, before delivering bad news or asking for a favor. I tried to butter up my father by mowing the lawn before I asked to borrow the car. At least butter me up before you ask for money.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
butter someone upand butter up to someone
to flatter someone; to treat someone especially nicely in hopes of receiving special favors. (See also spread something on thick; soft soap.) A student tried to butter the teacher up. She buttered up the teacher again.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Excessively praise or flatter someone, usually to gain a favor. For example, If you butter up Dad, he'll let you borrow the car. This term transfers the oily, unctuous quality of butter to lavish praise. [c. 1700]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
To praise or flatter someone in order to make him or her more receptive or willing: My coworker, hoping for a raise, is always buttering up the boss. If we butter up the bartender, maybe he'll buy us a drink.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.