A butter knife is a small, dull knife with a rounded or pointed tip, used solely for slicing butter and spreading it on bread. It has been a popular piece of silverware or flatware for several centuries. Victorian antique butter knives are often elaborately carved affairs, often made mostly of silver. Today, when a person buys a flatware set, it commonly comes with one such knife.
The point of the butter knife, which is often shared, is to avoid using a knife that was used to cut other food to slice pieces off butter. By offering a butter knife, diners can assure that really the only thing touching the knife besides the butter will be the bread people spread it on, or possibly corn on the cob and a few other things that are topped with butter.
In some cases, people merely use the butter knife to cut the butter they need, then they use their own knife to spread the butter on food. This gives the person more time to place butter on whatever food requires it without hogging the butter while using the knife.
The modern butter knife often looks very much like a regular flatware knife, but it is usually about half the size. It may feature either a pointed or rounded tip. Many people prefer the rounded tip style since this prevents the diner from accidentally spearing the bread he or she is buttering. One with a rounded tip may also be called a butter spreader.
Someone who would like to use a butter knife that is unique or interesting may want to consider an antique one. These can be very beautiful, and shoppers can often find ones that will coordinate well with flatware or silverware they already own. Some, especially the rare ones, can be quite expensive.
People who are devoted to their flatware or silverware pattern but who would like to have more than one butter knife for large parties can usually order additional knives from the company. Provided that the pattern is still being made, it’s likely that the company will be able to provide extra pieces needed. Discontinued patters can often be found on online auction sites or through companies that deal in older silverware.