push someone's buttons

Also, press someone's buttons. Draw a strong emotional reaction from someone, especially anger or sexual arousal. For example, My mother-in-law really knew how to push my buttons, or A good-looking redhead, she always seemed to press his buttons. This metaphoric expression transfers activating some mechanism by pushing buttons to human emotions. [Slang; 1920s]

Nearby words

  1. push paper,
  2. push plate,
  3. push poll,
  4. push polling,
  5. push shot,
  6. push the envelope,
  7. push the panic button,
  8. push through,
  9. push up daisies,
  10. push-bike

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