noun, often attributive
but·​ton | \ˈbə-tᵊn \

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

3a : push button

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, 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 \-​ləs \ adjective


buttoner \ˈbət-​nər, 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

Didi, China’s dominant ride-hailing company, has implemented a series of safety measures since the passenger deaths, including random facial-recognition checks of drivers and adding a one-tap button on the app to allow passengers to summon police. Yoko Kubota, WSJ, "China Clamps Down on Didi After Passenger Deaths," 28 Nov. 2018 The Seattle Seahawks soaked up London’s wind and rain and unleashed an offensive storm on the Oakland Raiders, a franchise that looks increasingly directionless and one which will surely hit the reset button on its roster. Seattle Times Sports Staff, The Seattle Times, "What the (inter)national media are saying about the Seahawks’ 27-3 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders," 15 Oct. 2018 So 700 million people, most of the Chinese population, can pay each other with two buttons on the phone with almost no commission and as little as fifteen cents. Eric Johnson, Recode, "If they don’t want to lose their jobs to a machine, doctors will need to become compassionate ‘human connectors’," 17 Sep. 2018 To use, hold the nasal device up to a nostril and press the small ejector button on the end. Tessie Castillo, SELF, "Here’s How to Use the Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone," 26 July 2018 Whenever the buzzer vibrated or the lightbulb changed color from orange to red, I was supposed to click the button on my finger. Fredrick Kunkle, ajc, "I took AAA's distracted driving road test. It wasn't pretty.," 29 June 2018 In hardware news, Fast Company reported that Apple could be bringing some changes to buttons on the Apple Watch. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Apple's Commitment to Privacy Was On Display This Week," 16 June 2018 Other than the ignition button on the steering wheel (inconvenient) and the glorious Alfa Romeo badge, there isn’t much to the interior that brings to mind an Italian sport sedan. Mark Maynard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti: fast-casual Italian," 15 June 2018 But the floating heart button on the right side of each Instagram comment is basically asking for accidental likes. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Steven Adams is the latest NBA player to fall victim to Instagram's comment 'like' button," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This week’s closings Blue Duck | Northeast Philadelphia The original location of the popular American BYOB, a victim of growing too quickly too soon, has buttoned up after less than four years. Michael Klein, Philly.com, "Let's Eat: Life, Libertine and the pursuit of happiness," 20 June 2018 Hems and seams were unfinished and left to fray, sleeves didn’t always match in size or length, shoulders were padded amply and sometimes unevenly, jackets buttoned asymmetrically. Dana Thomas, Town & Country, "Rei Kawakubo's Surprisingly Profound Impact on Fashion," 3 May 2017 Actress-musician Aimee Osbourne, the daughter of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, has buttoned up a quick sale in the Hollywood Hills, selling a 1930s home for $2.65 million after just a month on the market. Jack Flemming, latimes.com, "Aimee Osbourne moves on from updated 1930s home in the Hollywood Hills," 7 June 2018 The Thunder are a way of life: hard-working and buttoned up. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Grades: Thunder Retain Paul George Through Team and Culture," 1 July 2018 Expanding on his quilted patterns and overly buttoned-up and structured silhouettes from seasons past, creative director Raf Simons mixed in hints of metallics, easy silks, and sheer ruffles. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Millie Bobby Brown Stuns in Cheerleader-Inspired Look While Sitting Front Row at Calvin Klein’s Fall 2018 Show," 14 Feb. 2018 One man wore a white T-shirt with black pants and a black hat, while the other wore a blue and yellow plaid, short sleeve, buttoned shirt and light-colored pants with a white baseball cap, the video showed. Wayne K. Roustan, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Thieves steal diamond rings worth $45,000, police say," 11 July 2018 When three or more salmon are buttoned at once, the scene can turn into absolute bedlam. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Salmon opener brings mysteries, chance of mayhem," 10 June 2018 Through TigerOT, Hunter has learned to put on his socks and to button his pants. Aaron Reiss, kansascity, "The story of a boy with cerebral palsy who threw out the first pitch at a Mizzou game | The Kansas City Star," 4 May 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

9 Dec 2018

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

: 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 \

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 \

Medical Definition of button 

: something that resembles a small knob or disk: as

a : the terminal segment of a rattlesnake's rattle

b : cotyledon sense 1

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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

What made you want to look up button? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

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