Background: Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most predominant cancers in India. With advances in the field of oncology, a number of therapies have emerged; however, they are minimally effective. Consequently, there is a need to develop safe and effective regimens for the treatment of OSCC. Butein, a tetrahydroxychalcone has been found to exhibit potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and also anti-tumor effects against several cancer types. However, its effect on OSCC is not studied yet. Methods: The effect of butein on the viability, apoptosis, migration and invasion of OSCC cells was evaluated using MTT, colony formation, PI/FACS, live and dead, scratch wound healing, and matrigel invasion assays. Further Western blot analysis was done to evaluate the expression of different proteins involved in the regulation of cancer hallmarks. Results: This is the first report exemplifying the anti-cancer effect of butein against OSCC. Our results showed that butein exhibited potent anti-proliferative, cytotoxic, anti-migratory, and anti-invasive effects in OSCC cells. It suppressed the expression of NF-κB and NF-κB-regulated gene products such as COX-2, survivin and MMP-9 which are involved in the regulation of different processes like proliferation, survival, invasion, and metastasis of OSCC cells. Conclusion Collectively, these results suggest that butein has immense potential in the management of OSCC. Nonetheless, in vivo validation is critical before moving to clinical trials.