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button +‎ -ology. In the sense of pedantic systematization, a calque of Swedish knappologi with the same literal meaning.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbʌtənɒləd͡ʒi/
    Rhymes: -ɒlədʒi
  • (file)


buttonology (uncountable)

  1. The study of buttons (clothing fasteners and badges).
    • 1945, Chain Store Age - Volume 21, Issues 1-6, page 18:
      We're masters "buttonology" — of experimentation, of keeping pace with far-sighted fashion trends — are climaxed in a new Spring line which we present to the trade as worthy of representing our Golden Jubilee.
    • 1949, Lillian Smith Albert, The Complete Button Book:
      Happily this “button book of button books” by Lillian Smith Albert and Kathryn Kent provides a convenient guide through the maze of buttonology.
    • 1954 February, Adolph B. Benson, “Humor and Satire in Strindberg's 'The Island of Paradise'”, in Scandinavian Studies, volume 26, number 1, →JSTOR, pages 17-24:
      He was, of course, immediately appointed Professor of buttonology.
    • 1986, Y. Oren, Max Knight, The Imaginary Number: Short Stories, page 108:
      So after all this , it is no wonder that following the discovery of the non-missing button on his pants, Golan came to an important conclusion : Since the inner push toward Buttonology began with the loss of a button during his childhood , Fate had returned that button to him in his old age.
  2. (derogatory) An exaggerated and pointlessly pedantic systematization, especially of something trivial.
    • 1999, Current Swedish Archaeology - Volume 7, page 191:
      In the short story De lycksaliges ö from 1890 there is a satire on the Historical Museum in Stockholm , where archaeology with its typological method is characterized as a “ buttonology " ( Strindberg 1890 : 116ff ; cf. Welinder 1994 : 297ff , 320ff )
    • 2014, Knut Kolsrud, “Ethnology of the Present”, in Sigurd Erixon, The Possibilities of Charting Modern Life:
      From this point of view ethnology carries on, as do also, of course, all other disciplines, "buttonology" (knappologi).
    • 2015, Fredrik Sjöberg, chapter 5, in The Fly Trap[1]:
      The Archipelago of Buttonology. It was August Strindberg who coined the term "buttonology." He was angry and needed a taunt.
  3. (informal) The basic training required to start using a machine or piece of software: what the components of the interface are, what they do, and how to accomplish basic tasks.
    • 1924, The American Annual of Photography, volume 39-40:
      But if he does know his buttonology, there is much pleasure and profit for him in amateur picture-taking.
    • 1996, Cheryl Farr, High-tech Practice: Thriving in Dentistry's Computer Age, page 48:
      The bottom line is that high - technology training goes far beyond “ buttonology , " or learning how to push the buttons on the computer .
    • 2003, Karen Bolderman, Putting Your Patients on the Pump, page 4:
      The pump wearer must learn the technical “ buttonology" of their specific pump and learn how to fill the insulin cartridge / reservoir , change the tubing and infusion set , and calculate appropriate insulin bolus doses.
    • 2016, "Buttonology" in AVweb[2]:
      So how does one avoid the distraction of ATC’s bad timing when flying in the system? Well, practicing your buttonology skills in your primary aircraft is a good start.
    • 2017 April 11, Tom Argles, “Teaching practical science online using GIS: a cautionary tale of coping strategies”, in Journal of Geography in Higher Education, →DOI:
      The unenviable result was that the students followed a workflow in the software with no time to develop a deeper understanding of what they were doing or, indeed, why – a classic example of the ‘buttonology’ approach where mastering the software dominates the cognitive load.
  4. (US, military, slang) User interface
    • 2007 April 27, Carlo Munoz, “First round now under way”, in Inside the Air Force, volume 18, number 17, →JSTOR, pages 4-5:
      “The [controller] that will go in theater . . . is just a tad bigger . . . but all the same buttonology, but it’s ruggedized for the environment,” Raulerson said.
    • 2013 January 3, Jen Judson, “Officials:: No Loss Of Capability For DCGS-A Without Top-Secret Enclave”, in Inside the Pentagon, volume 29, number 1, →JSTOR, page 11:
      Fielding the newer version of the system with or without the enclave is important to units slated to have DCGS-A because the newer version “is a lot more user friendly for our analysts, as it’s more in tune with Windows-type applications,” he said at the roundtable. What’s more, it features what he called new “buttonology” to which users are more receptive.
    • 2016, Steve V. Hatch, Computerized Engine Controls, page 191:
      Any other adjustment concerns will pertain to the unique buttonology of the oscilloscope and will be covered in the owner's manual that comes with the scope when you purchase it.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Scandinavian authors writing in English use buttonology in the second sense, as a literal translation of knappologi.


See also[edit]