Origin of unbuttoned

1575–85; unbutton + -ed2 or un-1 + buttoned


verb (used with object)
  1. to free (buttons) from buttonholes; unfasten or undo.
  2. to unfasten by or as if by unbuttoning: to unbutton a jacket.
  3. to disclose (one's feelings, thoughts, etc.) after deliberate or prolonged silence.
verb (used without object)
  1. 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 unbuttoned

loose, open, undo

Examples from the Web for unbuttoned

Contemporary Examples of unbuttoned

Historical Examples of unbuttoned

  • She unbuttoned the mackintosh and spread it on the bar of the plough and sat down.

  • The men had unbuttoned their waistcoats, the ladies were wiping their faces with their napkins.


    Emile Zola

  • Thorpe unbuttoned his overcoat, laid aside his hat, and seated himself.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

  • A drab sack-coat of alpaca hung, unbuttoned, down to his knees.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

  • His shirt was unbuttoned, and, by the candle-light, I saw the hollow of his throat.

    Tales of Unrest

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for unbuttoned


  1. with buttons not fastened
  2. informal uninhibited; unrestrainedhours of unbuttoned self-revelation


  1. to undo by unfastening (the buttons) of (a garment)
  2. 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 unbuttoned



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper