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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


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buttonhole (plural buttonholes)

  1. A hole through which a button is pushed to secure a garment or some part of one.
  2. (chiefly Britain) A flower worn in a buttonhole for decoration.
    Synonym: boutonniere



buttonhole (third-person singular simple present buttonholes, present participle buttonholing, simple past and past participle buttonholed)

  1. To detain (a person) in conversation against their will.
    Synonyms: accost, waylay
    • 2004, Philip Roth, The Plot Against America:
      Here they are, the brainless few we had been raised to pity and fear, the Stone Age oafs and the seething runts and the ominous, swaggering weightlifters, buttonholing kids like me out on Chancellor Avenue and telling us to keep our baseball bats at the ready in case we were called in the night to take to the streets [...]

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