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 upbutton up your overcoat
3a : to close (the lips) to prevent speech button your lip
b : to close or seal tightly usually used with upbutton 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

Noun 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. Verb 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 To make a dream box, first have kids decorate an empty tissue box with markers, glue, and little doodads (yarn balls, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, buttons, sequins, whatever!). Rebecca Renner, National Geographic, "Kids are having pandemic dreams too," 11 May 2020 As the world hit the pause button, inner monologues have only increased. Stacy Dollar, ExpressNews.com, "Commentary: National Day of Prayer is a time for us all to unite in person or via livestream," 3 May 2020 If there are any pesky crumbs stuck in-between buttons, use a toothpick to gently dislodge them. Brigitt Earley, Good Housekeeping, "8 Places in Your Home That Are Dirtier Than You Think," 1 May 2020 Democrats who control Texas’ booming big cities, meanwhile, have praised him for shaking loose protective gear from a stretched-thin supply chain, but the speed at which Abbott is now hitting the reset button is making some fidget. Washington Post, "‘And then, boom’: Outbreak shows shaky ground as Texas opens," 30 Apr. 2020 It’s much easier to hit a button on the Stream Deck to launch a stream, for example, than trying to find the right option with a mouse. David Nield, Popular Science, "Great gear for livestreaming video games," 26 Apr. 2020 This is an unprecedented opportunity to not just hit the pause button and temporarily ease the pain, but to permanently change the standard so that people aren’t so vulnerable to begin with. oregonlive, "Portland Commissioner Position 2 candidates explain if they feel the city is doing enough to address housing, homelessness," 25 Apr. 2020 In the photos, wears a checkered button-down shirt and navy slacks, an ensemble coincidently similar to an outfit his father Prince William wore in 2014. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Louis Shares a Twinning Moment with Dad Prince William in New Birthday Photos," 22 Apr. 2020 But state leaders suddenly hit the pause button, worried whether supplies of protective equipment for workers and nasal swabs for collecting specimens for more than 200 people a day might stretch them too far. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Kroger health subsidiary begins coronavirus testing in deal with Kentucky," 13 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Ravens: The Ravens have their corners buttoned down with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey but could use help at safety, and there are a couple of really good ones who figure to go in the first round. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, "What NFC, AFC North teams seek in NFL draft," 18 Apr. 2020 Oxford shirts, which never close over my chest, could be worn over a cami or dress instead of buttoned up. Katherine J Igoe, Marie Claire, "I Did a Virtual Consultation With Katie Holmes' Stylist, and It Revolutionized My Wardrobe," 3 Apr. 2020 The move has reportedly buttoned up leading experts, notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s foremost experts on viruses and infectious disease and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "WHO raises global coronavirus alert as US faceplants," 29 Feb. 2020 With Yagihashi gone, Pernoi is leaning into Del Signore’s upscale Italian roots and chef de cuisine Justin Fulton’s French fine dining background for a more succinct, slightly less buttoned up package. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Best New Restaurant No. 7: Pernoi, Birmingham," 13 Feb. 2020 Winter was half-over, and Orla had barely buttoned her coat. Megan Angelo, Glamour, "An Exclusive Look at Megan Angelo's Debut Novel, Followers," 27 Dec. 2019 Our stadium guys had pretty much buttoned up the stadium for games (figuring remaining matchups would be on the road). Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW-Whitewater is one step away from advancing to the Stagg Bowl for the first time since 2014," 13 Dec. 2019 Wear a boxy flannel shirt buttoned or unbuttoned with leggings and chunky sneakers; either way, flannel's sporty interpretation is a Gigi Hadid favorite. Glamour, "How to Wear a Flannel Shirt During Every Season," 27 Jan. 2020 Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, for one, snorts at the idea of always being buttoned-down and laser-focused when working from the homestead. oregonlive, "Working from home has rules -- that are meant to be broken: How to stay productive during the coronavirus outbreak," 11 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for button

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for button

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Button.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/button. Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for button


How to pronounce button (audio)

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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