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

Right at the start of what will be at least a year-long endeavor, the state agency tasked with implementing a comprehensive new oil and gas law has hit the pause button to sort out conflicting messages from the public. Judith Kohler, The Denver Post, "Colorado’s writing of new oil, gas rules off to a rocky start," 3 July 2019 The next officer sat outside the voting booth and pressed a button that released a new ballot. Veronica Chambers, New York Times, "Viewfinders: 10 Y.A. Novelists Spin Fiction From Vintage Photos," 28 June 2019 Wearing a sports jacket and tie during each game, Lucas was quick with the signaling button dating back to his initial appearance on the second episode of Teen Tournament June 18. Johnny Diaz, sun-sentinel.com, "Miami teen finishes 3rd in ‘Jeopardy!’ tournament, calls experience ‘exhilarating’," 28 June 2019 The first version looked exactly like the original Ring Video Doorbell without the big round button. Dallas News, "The Ring Stick Up Cam Battery works with no wires at all," 27 June 2019 Dealing Krug now, even with the talented Charlie McAvoy emerging, would be akin to stripping the suit of its buttons. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, "Torey Krug wants to remain a Bruin — at the right price," 22 June 2019 Players have to press buttons in time with the visual metronome at the bottom of the screen. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘Cadence of Hyrule’ moves to its own ‘Zelda’ beat," 21 June 2019 Whatever your politics, there’s someone to push your buttons. Judy Berman, Time, "MTV Stares Into the Generation Gap With a Disorienting Real World Reboot," 20 June 2019 Traders must have their top shirt button fastened and at least part of either leg in contact with the ring’s red couch during trading. David Hodari, Joe Wallace, WSJ, "Hey Traders, It’s 2019—No More Drinking on the Job," 14 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Which means the most buttoned-down operation in professional sports need not worry about opening up their inner workings. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Watching Detroit Lions squirm on 'Hard Knocks' is what we all deserved," 14 June 2019 The company reorganized its head office, brought in leadership familiar with meeting regulatory requirements and buttoned up standard operating procedures, Berman said. Alicia Wallace, CNN, "Veteran cannabis company Harborside joins wave of US firms listing on Canadian exchange," 10 June 2019 But Winovich is now trying to stick with the New England Patriots, an operation with its own sort of reputation as the most buttoned-down championship unit since the USSR hockey team of the ‘70s. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Chase Winovich curbing his bold comments after being drafted by New England Patriots," 6 June 2019 The company reorganized its head office, brought in leadership familiar with meeting regulatory requirements and buttoned up standard operating procedures, Berman said. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Harborside heads north, gets listed on Canadian exchange," 11 June 2019 Nina Khrushcheva was clad in the simplest dress, which buttoned at the front. Djurdja Bartlett, Smithsonian, "When the United States and Soviet Union Fought It Out Over Fashion," 4 June 2019 The food may be some of the most ambitious in Denver, but the experience is far from buttoned up. Sunset Staff, Sunset, "Eat This Burger, Ogle These Dogs, and 8 Other Things You Should See & Do This Week," 22 Jan. 2018 Blake, who voiced the character Ox in the cartoon film, opted for his go-to button down and jeans look. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani Hit the Red Carpet With Her Sons for the First Time Ever," 29 Apr. 2019 For her top, Kate opted for a cardigan by Brora, but cleverly buttoned it up and wore it like a blouse. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Attends a Christmas Party in the Perfect Plaid Skirt by Emilia Wickstead," 4 Dec. 2018

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

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Statistics for button

Last Updated

8 Jul 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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