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[buht-n-hohl] /ˈbʌt nˌhoʊl/
the hole, slit, or loop through which a button is passed and by which it is secured.
Chiefly British. a boutonniere.
Surgery. a short, straight incision through the wall of a cavity or a canal.
verb (used with object), buttonholed, buttonholing.
to sew with a buttonhole stitch.
to make buttonholes in.
to hold by the buttonhole or otherwise abruptly detain (someone) in conversation:
The reporter tried to buttonhole the mayor for a statement on the bus strike.
Origin of buttonhole
1555-65; button + hole
Related forms
buttonholer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for buttonhole
Historical Examples
  • The buttonhole model is intended to show how much skill has been acquired.

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
  • A man had entered the car with an orange ribbon in his buttonhole.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • The bar of the watch-guard worked through the buttonhole, and the watch—Platte's watch—slid quietly on to the carpet.

  • Disengaging the flower from his buttonhole he handed it to her.

  • But only think of dancing with lunatics—and such ugly ones too—and being held by the buttonhole by some wild-eyed ancient mariner.

    The Night Side of London J. Ewing Ritchie
  • It's too big to put in a wreath, so I'll wear it in my buttonhole.

    Werwolves Elliott O'Donnell
  • Many workers, particularly tailors, always "stay" or "bar" around a buttonhole before working.

    Textiles and Clothing Kate Heintz Watson
  • There was a pink bud in John's buttonhole, and a red one in Sir Peter's.

    Old Valentines Munson Aldrich Havens
  • Lee had stopped at a florist's and bought a rose for his buttonhole.

    The Quaint Companions Leonard Merrick
  • If you like to wear a bit of red ribbon in your buttonhole, why, do so.

    Tommy and Co. Jerome K. Jerome
British Dictionary definitions for buttonhole


a slit in a garment, etc, through which a button is passed to fasten two surfaces together
a flower or small bunch of flowers worn pinned to the lapel or in the buttonhole, esp at weddings, formal dances, etc US name boutonniere
verb (transitive)
to detain (a person) in conversation
to make buttonholes in
to sew with buttonhole stitch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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buttonhole in Medicine

buttonhole but·ton·hole (bŭt'n-hōl')

  1. A short straight surgical cut made through the wall of a cavity or canal.

  2. The contraction of an orifice down to a narrow slit, as in mitral stenosis.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for buttonhole



To get someone's attention as if by taking hold by a buttonhole: listening to and buttonholing other researchers

[1880+; Button in the same sense is attested from the early 1860s]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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