buttonhole someone

Accost or detain a person in conversation. For example, The reporter tried to buttonhole the senator, but she got away. This term is a metaphor for literally grasping someone by a buttonhole on his or her clothing. [Mid-1800s]


Nearby words

  1. buttonball,
  2. buttonbush,
  3. buttoned up,
  4. buttoned-up,
  5. buttonhole,
  6. buttonhole stitch,
  7. buttonhook,
  8. buttonless,
  9. buttonmold,
  10. buttonmould

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.