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Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth

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  • Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth is a proverb that is especially popular in the American South, though its origin is surprisingly older. It is a phrase that is poorly understood and often used incorrectly. We will look at the meaning of the phrase butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    The phrase butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth or butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth describes someone who appears demure, innocent or sincere but is in fact unkind, devious or insincere. The idea is that the person in question is so calm, cool and collected that butter wouldn’t even melt in his mouth. A British phrase, it is more popular in the American South than in other regions. The phrase was listed as a proverb in 1562 in the work The Proverbs and Epigrams of John Heywood: “She looketh as butter would not melt in her mouth.” The term was also listed in Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse in 1530, a work of French terms translated into English by Jehan Palsgrave. Like many idioms and proverbs, only the beginning part of the phrase, butter wouldn’t melt, is often referred to, with the rest of the phrase assumed to be understood by the listener.

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    Examples

    Then we have the saccharine-sweet, butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths Christians who harbor a scandalous secret. (The Altoona Mirror)

    I was of the opinion that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth but I’ve come to doubt that. (The Guardian)

    From the look of the trailer, Barrymore’s butter-wouldn’t-melt delivery is perfect as a blood-thirsty mum living in the sunny LA suburbs. (Vogue Magazine)

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