buttonhole

noun
but·​ton·​hole | \ ˈbə-tᵊn-ˌhōl How to pronounce buttonhole (audio) \

Definition of buttonhole

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a slit or loop through which a button is passed
2 chiefly British : boutonniere

buttonhole

verb (1)
buttonholed; buttonholing; buttonholes

Definition of buttonhole (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to furnish with buttonholes
2 : to work with buttonhole stitch

buttonhole

verb (2)
buttonholed; buttonholing; buttonholes

Definition of buttonhole (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to detain in conversation by or as if by holding on to the outer garments of

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Other Words from buttonhole

Verb (1)

buttonholer \ ˈbə-​tᵊn-​ˌhō-​lər How to pronounce buttonhole (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

Buttonhole is easy to pin down as a noun referring to the slit or loop through which a button is passed to fasten something, but its shift to a verb meaning "to detain in conversation" requires some explanation. Buttonhole is an alteration of another verb now long out of use: buttonhold, which literally meant to hold on to the buttons or lapels of someone's coat when speaking to him or her. In the mid-19th century, English speakers altered the verb to buttonhole, perhaps as a result of hearing buttonhold as buttonholed. The overlap is apparent in an early instance of this spelling in an 1862 London publication called All Year Round: "The man who is button-holed, or held … and must listen to half an hour's harangue about nothing interesting."

First Known Use of buttonhole

Noun

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1852, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1848, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for buttonhole

Verb (2)

alteration of buttonhold

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Time Traveler for buttonhole

Time Traveler

The first known use of buttonhole was in 1534

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Dictionary Entries Near buttonhole

buttonhold

buttonhole

buttonhole stitch

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Cite this Entry

“Buttonhole.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buttonhole. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for buttonhole

buttonhole

noun
but·​ton·​hole | \ ˈbə-tᵊn-ˌhōl How to pronounce buttonhole (audio) \

Kids Definition of buttonhole

: a slit or loop for fastening a button

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