A knob/lump of butter

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blasita

Senior Member
Spain. Left seven years ago
Hello.

I know that 'a knob of butter' is British English, and I wonder what word/s would be used in American English and other varieties of English instead. Is 'a lump of' used everywhere?

Thank you.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    People often use the term "pat" for a little square of butter. If the butter was soft and came in a little round container, I'd just call it a portion or serving of butter.
     

    blasita

    Senior Member
    Spain. Left seven years ago
    Thanks a lot, Owlman. And would 'a lump of butter' be used at all, please?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think just about anyone would understand "lump of butter", but as far as I know the term isn't commonly used over here. I don't recall anybody ever using that word in conversations with me.
     

    blasita

    Senior Member
    Spain. Left seven years ago
    Of course I am! Yes, 'a dab': that's great; I knew the word but couldn't recall it. Very useful. Many thanks, Owlman.

    Besides, if possible, I'd love to hear if they use something different in other places too.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    In BE, "a knob of butter" is used essentially in recipes. A small flat portion of butter for table use would be a "pat", as in AE.

    I'm curious to know what would appear in an American recipe: "Add a small xxx of butter". (Would that be a dab?)

    Ws:)
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    In BE, "a knob of butter" is used essentially in recipes. A small flat portion of butter for table use would be a "pat", as in AE.

    I'm curious to know what would appear in an American recipe: "Add a small xxx of butter". (Would that be a dab?)


    Ws:)
    A recipe might very well use the word "dab" as long as no specific measure like "teaspoon" was used.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    As owlman stated, I've always heard a pat of butter. It's used quite commonly in recipes.

    I've never heard a lump nor a knob of butter used. I would understand what a lump of butter was, but I would give someone an odd look if they spoke of a knob of butter.
     

    blasita

    Senior Member
    Spain. Left seven years ago
    Thank you, Wordsmyth and Filsmith.

    Is pat used only for butter, please?
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In the U.S., prepackaged butter is sold in sticks weighing 4 oz. (about 115g), packaged in boxes of four. Their dimensions are standard: about 1 1/4" square by 4 5/8" long (about 3.5cm square by 11.5cm long). A pat refers, in my experience, specifically to a slice of such a stick. If I saw butter in any other form, I wouldn't use this word.
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    In BE, "a knob of butter" is used essentially in recipes. A small flat portion of butter for table use would be a "pat", as in AE.

    I'm curious to know what would appear in an American recipe: "Add a small xxx of butter". (Would that be a dab?)

    Ws:)
    Usually recipes use 'sticks' of butter (1 stick = 1/2 cup or 8 tbsp). And for smaller amounts I think 'dab' works well.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Recipes also refer to tablespoons of butter - in fact, the paper in which sticks of butter are wrapped when they're sold is generally marked off in tablespoons. Pat does appear in recipies as well - I'd interpret it to mean "approximately a tablespoon, but a little more or less doesn't matter."

    I've only heard and seen knob of butter in BE books and on BE cooking shows.
     

    blasita

    Senior Member
    Spain. Left seven years ago
    Thank you, Egmont, Bicontinental, JustKate and Owlman. I actually didn't think that different words were used in different contexts in this case.

    Regards.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] Is pat used only for butter, please?
    As owlman says, I've not heard it used for anything else in the food domain.
    But if you're out walking in the fields, you might want to avoid stepping in a cow pat (/cow-pat/cowpat); I think a more common AmE term may be cow flop. Both that and butter fit the general definition of "pat" in that context: "a compact mass of soft material"! [Oxford online] :cool:
    Usually recipes use 'sticks' of butter (1 stick = 1/2 cup or 8 tbsp). And for smaller amounts I think 'dab' works well.
    So a knob (or dab) would be somewhere around 1/8 of a stick or 1/16 of a cup. Not that I've ever tried measuring butter using a cup — could be a bit messy unless you melted it first ;).
    [...] dimensions are standard: about 1 1/4" square by 4 5/8" long [...]. A pat refers, in my experience, specifically to a slice of such a stick. If I saw butter in any other form, I wouldn't use this word.
    It's not rare (especially in restaurants) to see butter pats that are other than square: quite commonly circular with serrated edges, but other forms exist: here, for example.

    Ws:)
     
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