The English idiom ‘(to) butter (someone) up‘ is when someone is being really nice to another person, for selfish reasons. The only reason they are being nice is because they want the person to do something for them (and usually the other person doesn’t really want to do it).

Remember: Idioms are English phrases that have a different meaning to the individual words in the phrase. If you hear a native English speaker use this idiom in a conversation, it doesn’t mean someone has butter on them!

Here’s an example:

Toby:                        Why is Tom being so nice to you today?

Amy:                        I think he’s buttering me up because he needs someone to drive him to the airport tonight.

Toby:                        Ah, that explains it!

(Tom is being nice to Amy because he needs her to drive him to the airport. He thinks if he is very nice to her (nicer than usual), then she will do it.)

 

Have you ever buttered someone up because you wanted them to do something for you? Tell me about it in in the comments box below!