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

  • To seize by the buttonhole or button and detain in conversation; interview.
  • To make buttonholes in.
  • To sow with the stitch used in making buttonholes: used in sewing, lacework, and embroidery.
  • 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.
  • n. In surgery, any small straight incision into a cavity or canal. See boutonnière, 2.
  • n. A buttonhole bouquet.

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


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)


  • 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.

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  • 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.

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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.


  • 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!

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

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  • 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.

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

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  • 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

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