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Originally the (adjectival) past passive participle of an old verb *sviest (to smear, to spread) (cf. Lithuanian svíesti); the original meaning of sviests was thus “(something) smeared (on something else), (something) used for smearing;” cf. Russian масло (máslo, butter, oil) and мазать (mázat’, to smear, spread (oil)), or Latin unguen (fat, grease) and unguō (to smear, to anoint). The verb *sviest would in turn come from *sviesti, from Proto-Baltic *swied-ti, from Proto-Indo-European *sweid- (to shine) (whence also Latvian svīst “to sweat; to steam; to dawn” q.v.); its original meaning would have been “to make something shine” > “to smear with oil, so that it shines” > “to smear” (cf. its descendant svaidīt “to anoint,” originally the iterative form of *sviest). Cognates include Lithuanian svíestas.[1]


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sviests m (1st declension)

  1. butter (a dairy product, obtained from cream, with a high fat concentration)
    krējuma sviests — cream butter
    skābkrējuma sviests — sour cream butter
    sūkalu sviests — whey butter
    svaigs sviests — fresh butter
    nesalīts sviests — unsalted butter
    kausēts sviests — melted butter
    sviesta trauks — butter bowl
    sautēt saknes sviestā — to sautee roots in butter
    sviesta rūpniecībabutter industry
    kult sviestu — to churn butter
    gaiteņa pustumsā viņai skrēja pretī sviestā ceptu pankūku smarža — in the darkness of the corridor the smell of pancakes fried in butter came (lit. ran) to her
  2. (in the genitive, used adjectivally) butter; containing butter, made with butter
    sviesta cepumibutter cookies
    sviesta mīklu gatavo no sviesta, cukura, kviešu miltiem, nedaudz pievienojot olasbutter dough is made from butter, sugar, (and) wheat flour, adding a little egg (= one or two eggs)
  3. butter, spread (any food paste generally used as spread)
  4. (slang) nonsense; something that is bizarre
  5. (slang) something that has poor quality, is not successful
    saiet sviestā — to deteriorate; to fail (lit. to go into butter)


Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ “sviests” in Konstantīns Karulis (1992, 2001), Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca, in 2 vols, Rīga: AVOTS, ISBN: 9984-700-12-7