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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English boton, botoun, from Old French boton (Modern French bouton), from Old French bouter, boter (to push; thrust), ultimately from a Germanic language. More at butt.

Shirt button (sense 1)
Push button (sense 2)


button (plural buttons)

  1. A knob or disc that is passed through a loop or (buttonhole), serving as a fastener. [from the mid-13th c.]
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
      I liked the man for his own sake, and even had he promised to turn out a celebrity it would have had no weight with me. I look upon notoriety with the same indifference as on the buttons on a man's shirt-front, or the crest on his note-paper.
    April fastened the buttons of her overcoat to keep out the wind.
  2. A mechanical device meant to be pressed with a finger in order to open or close an electric circuit or to activate a mechanism.
    Pat pushed the button marked "shred" on the blender.
  3. (graphical user interface) An on-screen control that can be selected as an activator of an attached function.
    Click the button that looks like a house to return to your browser's home page.
  4. (US) A badge worn on clothes, fixed with a pin through the fabric.
    The politician wore a bright yellow button with the slogan "Vote Smart" emblazoned on it.
  5. (botany) A bud.
  6. (slang) The clitoris.
  7. (curling) The center (bullseye) of the house.
  8. (fencing) The soft circular tip at the end of a foil.
  9. (poker) A plastic disk used to represent the person in last position in a poker game; also dealer's button.
  10. (poker) The player who is last to act after the flop, turn and river, who possesses the button.
  11. A raised pavement marker to further indicate the presence of a pavement marking painted stripe.
  12. (South Africa, slang) A methaqualone tablet (used as a recreational drug).
  13. A piece of wood or metal, usually flat and elongated, turning on a nail or screw, to fasten something, such as a door.
  14. A globule of metal remaining on an assay cupel or in a crucible, after fusion.
  15. A knob; a small ball; a small, roundish mass.
  16. A small white blotch on a cat's coat.
  17. (Britain, archaic) A unit of length equal to 1/12 of an inch.
  18. The means for initiating a nuclear strike or similar cataclysmic occurrence.
Usage notes[edit]

For the senses 2 and 3, a button is often marked by a verb rather than a noun, and the button itself is called with the verb and button. For example, a button to start something is generally called start button.

  • (graphical user interface): widget
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English butonen, botonen, from the noun (see above).


button (third-person singular simple present buttons, present participle buttoning, simple past and past participle buttoned)

  1. (transitive) To fasten with a button. [from the late 14th c.]
    • Charles Dickens
      He was a tall, fat, long-bodied man, buttoned up to the throat in a tight green coat.
  2. (intransitive) To be fastened by a button or buttons.
    The coat will not button.
Derived terms[edit]