Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small slit in a garment or piece of fabric for fastening a button.
  • n. Chiefly British A boutonniere.
  • transitive v. To make a buttonhole in.
  • transitive v. To sew with a buttonhole stitch.
  • transitive v. To accost and detain (a person) in conversation by or as if by grasping the person's outer garments: "He was also frequently buttonholed by White House lobbyists . . . who seemed to be permanently assigned to shadow the burly Democrat” ( Terence Moran).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A hole through which a button is pushed to secure a garment or some part of one.
  • n. a flower worn in a buttonhole for decoration
  • v. To detain (a person) in conversation against their will.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The hole or loop in which a button is caught.
  • transitive v. To hold at the button or buttonhole; to detain in conversation to weariness; to bore.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The hole or loop in which a button is caught.
  • n. A name given to the hart's-tongue fern, Scolopendrium vulgare, because its fructification in the young state resembles a buttonhole in form and appearance.
  • To seize by the buttonhole or button and detain in conversation; interview.
  • To make buttonholes in.
  • n. In surgery, any small straight incision into a cavity or canal. See boutonnière, 2.
  • n. A buttonhole bouquet.
  • To sow with the stitch used in making buttonholes: used in sewing, lacework, and embroidery.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a hole through which buttons are pushed
  • v. detain in conversation by or as if by holding on to the outer garments of; as for political or economic favors
  • n. a hole through which buttons are pushed

Etymologies

V., sense 3, probably alteration of button-hold.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originally buttonhold (a loop of string to hold a button down), but changed by folk etymology by influence of hole; see the Wikipedia article on folk etymology (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I can embroider names on baby blankets (my favorite baby gift to give), there are several different 'fancy' stitches, the buttonhole is very easy to use, you can attach a walking foot for quilting and you can also buy cards with embroidery designs to use in the machine.

    Home Living

  • There's a scattering of French knots at the top and I even used a little blanket stitch (buttonhole) on the middle ribbon - buttonhole is the second week's challenge, so you'll be seeing more of that soon.

    Archive 2007-01-01

  • Corrigan took a sip of coffee, noting that today the flower in the buttonhole was a particularly brilliant red.

    Sunlight Through The Shadows Magazine Volume 2 Issue 1 (ANSI Edition)

  • Some bring with them a hamper of provisions and wine, and, spreading them on the grass, lunch and dine when and where they will; but those who would dine with the artists must have the order of the _mezzo baiocco_ hanging to their buttonhole, which is distributed previously in Rome to all the artists who purchase tickets.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 05, No. 31, May, 1860

  • In his buttonhole was a hyacinth, and in one slender ivory hand he carried a huge bunch of pink roses, which, bowing deeply, he presented to the embarrassed girl.

    Fire-Tongue

  • The violinist's tall, thin, loping figure was tightly buttoned into a brownish-grey frock-coat suit; he wore a rather broad-brimmed, grey, velvety hat; in his buttonhole was a white flower; his cloth-topped boots were of patent leather; his tie was bunched out at the ends over a soft white-linen shirt -- altogether quite a dandy!

    Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works

  • He was stylishly dressed as usual and carried a gold-headed cane, and in his buttonhole was a large carnation.

    The Rover Boys in Alaska or Lost in the Fields of Ice

  • In his buttonhole was a piece of blue ribbon, symbol of a ferocious total-abstinence; his face would have afforded sufficient proof that among the reverend man's failings were few distinctly of the flesh.

    Denzil Quarrier

  • A bit of red string in the hat or in a buttonhole was the most ordinary symbol.

    A Fool's Errand. By One of the Fools

  • That flower which he is wearing in his buttonhole is a rose -- a white rose, a York rose -- and will serve to remind us of the War of the Roses, and that the white one was the winning color when Edward got the throne and dispossessed the

    What Is Man? and Other Essays

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