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

Fifteen-year-old Cara Daly, who has studied ASL for the last year, rang her call button. Maggie Wilson, ajc, "Teen girl helps blind, deaf man by signing into his hands on Alaska Air flight," 23 June 2018 Curbing foreign influence has become a hot-button issue in Iraq after parliament elections in May in which Shiite militias backed by Iran made significant gains. Qassim Abdul-zahra, The Seattle Times, "AP Interview: Iraqi militia leader wants US troops to leave," 28 Jan. 2019 The singer-songwriter performed at the Chanel Métiers d’Art show, which took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in what first appeared to be a classic Chanel tweed blazer and mini-skirt, gold buttons and all. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "This Is How Kelela Reworks a Classic Chanel Look," 5 Dec. 2018 The Under Armour logo on the right ear cup is actually a big button. Amy Marturana, SELF, "Why I Love Using These Wireless Headphones When I Lift—and Think You Will Too," 31 Aug. 2018 Among flowers, good bets are breadseed or ladybird poppies, California poppies, foxglove, nigella, columbine, nicotiana, bachelor’s buttons, cosmos, coreopsis, calendula and scabiosa. Pam Peirce, SFChronicle.com, "The joy of seed saving," 6 July 2018 The current hot-button issue in New York City concerns diversifying the city’s specialized high schools, which are overwhelmingly white. Terrell Jermaine Starr, The Root, "Cynthia Nixon’s Campaign Against White Privilege," 28 June 2018 Untuckit's claim to fame is a men's button up that is specifically designed to be untucked and still look good. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "New retailer, Untuckit, coming to Kenwood Towne Centre," 26 June 2018 Cash Only’, a series that will explore the hot-button issues of immigration and multiculturalism by visiting immigrant kitchens across America and abroad. Abid Rahman, The Hollywood Reporter, "‘Fresh Off The Boat’ Author Eddie Huang Teams With Propagate to Produce Immigrant Food Series," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The movie’s title design — and, even more so, the chapter titles that appear throughout the film — is at once buttoned-up and off-kilter. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Sorry to Bother You," 12 Nov. 2018 For a tournament that prides itself—rightfully so—on being so buttoned up, this is especially surprising. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "Mailbag: Surprises and Shambles After Three Days at the 2018 Australian Open," 17 Jan. 2018 With its dark paneled walls, taxidermy, and endless supply of plaid, the candlelit dinner began somewhat buttoned up before loosening up into an all-out dance party under a glittering disco ball. Zachary Weiss, Vogue, "Inside the Rollicking Aspen Trip That Was All Over Your Instagram," 11 Feb. 2019 But proceeding to mingle with other wedding guests outside of the chapel, the birthday girl apparently quickly buttoned up, and carried on. Morgan M. Evans, Fox News, "Meghan Markle wears sexy mini dress to Lin-Manuel Miranda 'Hamilton' gala show with Prince Harry," 30 Aug. 2018 The blonde beauty kept it casual in a pair of Adidas pink camouflage leggings and an asymmetrical purple jacket, while Kushner buttoned up in a navy blue coat. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Newlyweds Karlie Kloss and Joshua Kushner Step Out in NYC Following Their Surprise Wedding," 24 Oct. 2018 But there was Bohm on Monday night, buttoning a Phillies jersey and pulling on a red hat after the Phils drafted him with their first-round pick. Matt Breen, Philly.com, "Phillies draft Alec Bohm with No. 3 pick," 4 June 2018 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

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

18 Mar 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

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


a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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