Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small slit in a garment or piece of fabric for fastening a button.
  • noun Chiefly British A boutonniere.
  • transitive verb To make a buttonhole in.
  • transitive verb To sew with a buttonhole stitch.
  • transitive verb To accost and detain (a person) in conversation.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The hole or loop in which a button is caught.
  • noun 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.
  • noun In surgery, any small straight incision into a cavity or canal. See boutonnière, 2.
  • noun A buttonhole bouquet.
  • To sow with the stitch used in making buttonholes: used in sewing, lacework, and embroidery.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[V., sense 3, probably alteration of button-hold.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

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

  • 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.

    Take a stitch challenge

  • 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!

    Beyond

  • 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

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I put it in her buttonhole.

    December 4, 2011

  • To accost and detain (a person) in conversation by or as if by grasping the person's outer garments:

    January 9, 2013

  • There's something quaintly blushful about outer garments.

    January 9, 2013