verb (used with object)

to free (buttons) from buttonholes; unfasten or undo.
to unfasten by or as if by unbuttoning: to unbutton a jacket.
to disclose (one's feelings, thoughts, etc.) after deliberate or prolonged silence.

verb (used without object)

to unfasten a button or one's buttons.

Origin of unbutton

First recorded in 1275–1325, unbutton is from the Middle English word unbotenen. See un-2, button
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for unbutton

loose, open, undo

Examples from the Web for unbutton

Historical Examples of unbutton

  • Why so anxious about the sit of cloaks; and gloves—whether to button or unbutton?

    Monday or Tuesday

    Virginia Woolf

  • She saw Richard Crawford unbutton his vest, a little assisted by the Colonel.


    Henry Morford

  • If gossip, then, be a gallows 39matter, let Bell unbutton him for the end.

    Journeys to Bagdad

    Charles S. Brooks

  • His only reaction to this was to step forward and continue to unbutton her blouse.

    Ten From Infinity

    Paul W. Fairman

  • Her mother had to unbutton the hard top button but she did all the rest.

    Here and Now Story Book

    Lucy Sprague Mitchell

British Dictionary definitions for unbutton



to undo by unfastening (the buttons) of (a garment)
informal to release or relax (oneself, tension, etc)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for unbutton

early 14c., from un- (2) "opposite of" + button (v.). Related: Unbuttoned; unbuttoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper