noun, often attributive
but·​ton | \ ˈbə-tᵊn How to pronounce button (audio) \

Definition of button

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a small knob or disk secured to an article (as of clothing) and used as a fastener by passing it through a buttonhole or loop
b : a usually circular metal or plastic badge bearing a stamped design or printed slogan campaign button
2 : something that resembles a button: such as
a : any of various parts or growths of a plant or of an animal: such as
(1) : bud
(2) : an immature whole mushroom especially : button mushroom
(3) : the terminal segment of a rattlesnake's rattle
b : a small globule of metal remaining after fusion (as in assaying)
c : a guard on the tip of a fencing foil
b : something (such as a push button) that has the real or symbolic capability of initiating a catastrophe (such as a nuclear attack) has his finger on the button
c : a hidden sensitivity that can be manipulated to produce a desired response knows how to push my buttons
d : a usually box-shaped computer icon that initiates a specific software function
4 : the point of the chin especially as a target for a knockout blow
on the button
: exactly arrived at noon on the button also : exactly on target : on the nose the estimate was right on the button


buttoned; buttoning\ ˈbət-​niŋ How to pronounce buttoning (audio) , ˈbə-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of button (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to furnish or decorate with buttons
2a : to pass (a button) through a buttonhole or loop
b : to close or fasten with buttons often used with up button up your overcoat
3a : to close (the lips) to prevent speech button your lip
b : to close or seal tightly usually used with up button up the house for winter

intransitive verb

: to have buttons for fastening this dress buttons at the back

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Other Words from button


buttonless \ ˈbə-​tᵊn-​ləs How to pronounce buttonless (audio) \ adjective


buttoner \ ˈbət-​nər How to pronounce buttoner (audio) , ˈbə-​tᵊn-​ər \ noun

Examples of button in a Sentence


a dress with buttons down the back I lost a button on my jacket. He took off his tie and undid the top button of his shirt. Will you please push the ‘play’ button on the CD player? With a fax machine, you can send a document across the country with the touch of a button. If the information on the registration form is correct, click the ‘OK’ button.


He rarely buttons the top button on his shirt. Will you button the baby's jacket for her? The skirt buttons on the side.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Southgate is determined for his players to live by his sword, but the axe may fall quicker if the Three Lions press the self-destruct button again over the summer. SI.com, "Why England's New 'Golden Generation' are Set Up for Glorious Failure," 11 Sep. 2019 Free-throws seem more in line with a player's skill, for example, than blind luck after pressing a button. Brittany Vincent, CNN Underscored, "NBA 2K20 offers some of the best virtual basketball you'll ever play," 10 Sep. 2019 In many models, pressing the voice command button on the steering wheel activates the car’s native voice recognition system, not Google’s or Apple’s. Wired, "GM's Search for In-Car Tech Lands on Google," 7 Sep. 2019 Next, press the button for SAUTÉ and set it for HIGH, MORE, or CUSTOM 400°F for 15 minutes and press START. NBC News, "An Instant Pot chicken teriyaki recipe that goes from freezer to table in 20 minutes," 5 Sep. 2019 This isn’t accomplished by simply pressing a button. New York Times, "This Labor Day, We Salute the (Arts) Workers," 30 Aug. 2019 Kids need to be outdoors more, Roberts said, getting sweaty and messy and not pressing buttons. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Work is child’s play as Napa volunteer, 92, keeps building swings and slides," 30 Aug. 2019 Bushnell recorded the ordeal on Snapchat, filming herself walking up to the elevator and repeatedly pressing the button to call it. People Staff, PEOPLE.com, "Going Nowhere: All the Stars Who've Been Stuck in Elevators," 28 Aug. 2019 In the intersection of Oram and Skillman streets, McDonald recalled pressing the button to cross. Hayat Norimine, Dallas News, "What's the status of Dallas' pedestrian push buttons? Curious Texas investigates," 23 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In early-down situations, the Spartans defense appeared to be as buttoned-down as ever, snuffing out runs and placing Tulsa in long-yard situations. C.j. Peterson, The Mercury News, "Takeaways: San Jose State allows Golden Hurricane to run right through them," 8 Sep. 2019 Suits in tan, gray and navy buttoned over ties of different patterns. Natalia Alamdari, Washington Post, "At a Delaware school, students start year greeted in style," 6 Sep. 2019 If Nashville was buttoned-up, the outlaws headed to Texas and cut loose. John Adamian, courant.com, "Willie Nelson to helm Outlaw Music Festival, with Alison Krauss and Phil Lesh, at Xfinity," 7 June 2019 With players from HBCUs adding new flavor to her hits and deep cuts, Beyoncé's relentless rhythms are refracted through the martial rigor of a marching band, resulting in a groove that's buttoned-up but never lets up. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 50 Best Albums of 2019 (So Far): Staff Picks," 3 June 2019 The Twist Tie: Skip buttoning the bottom few buttons. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "The Perfect Button-Down Shirt: Fit, Fabric, Styling, and More," 5 Sep. 2019 Obama believes his brand is cool, technocratic, tightly controlled, a bit wonkish and professorial, inspirational, buttoned-down, Ivy League, definitely forward-looking. Kyle Smith, National Review, "What If Obama Endorses Warren?," 30 Aug. 2019 In the heat of a D.C. summer, men remain buttoned tight under jackets and neckties. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "A day in the life of a United States senator: Lisa Murkowski," 18 Aug. 2019 Johnson was notably cautious and buttoned-up during his leadership campaign, but that did not stop him from throwing dead cats. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Just How Crazy Is Boris Johnson?," 24 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'button.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of button


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for button


Middle English boton, from Anglo-French butun rose hip, stud, from buter to thrust — more at butt entry 3

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Statistics for button

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for button

The first known use of button was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for button



English Language Learners Definition of button

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small, usually round piece of plastic, glass, metal, etc., that is sewn to a piece of clothing and is pushed through a loop or hole to fasten one part of the clothing to another part
US : a small, usually round sign that has a picture or words on the front and a pin on the back
: a small part of a machine that you push to make the machine work



English Language Learners Definition of button (Entry 2 of 2)

: to attach (a button) by passing it through a hole
: to close or fasten (something) with buttons
: to have buttons for fastening


but·​ton | \ ˈbə-tᵊn How to pronounce button (audio) \

Kids Definition of button

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small ball or disk used for holding parts of a garment together or as an ornament
2 : a small often round part of a machine that makes the machine do something when pushed


buttoned; buttoning

Kids Definition of button (Entry 2 of 2)

: to close or fasten with buttons


but·​ton | \ ˈbət-ᵊn How to pronounce button (audio) \

Medical Definition of button

: something that resembles a small knob or disk: as
a : the terminal segment of a rattlesnake's rattle

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More from Merriam-Webster on button

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with button

Spanish Central: Translation of button

Nglish: Translation of button for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of button for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about button

Comments on button

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