1. A small slit in a garment or piece of fabric for fastening a button.
2. Chiefly British A boutonniere.
tr.v. but·ton·holed, but·ton·hol·ing, but·ton·holes
1. To make a buttonhole in.
2. To sew with a buttonhole stitch.
3. To accost and detain (a person) in conversation: "He was also frequently buttonholed by White House lobbyists" (Terence Moran).
[V., sense 3, probably alteration of button-hold.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.