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buttonhole (someone)

To confine or accost someone in or with conversation. Likened to holding onto someone by the lapels (on which the buttonhole used for a boutonniere is located). I tried to leave the office early, but Larry buttonholed me with a tedious conversation about weekend plans.
See also: buttonhole

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]
See also: buttonhole, someone


tv. to accost someone; to make someone listen to one. (As if grabbing someone by the coat lapel to keep them from getting away.) The guy buttonholed me on my way out, and started asking me a lot of questions.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Advocate buttonholed the busy Navratilova in November in Los Angeles, where she was competing in the Women's Tennis Association Tour's year-end championships in doubles.
Suppose every teaching assistant, librarian, and cafeteria worker he encountered buttonholed him for tete-a-tetes about race and gender, community and responsibility.
And most consumers buttonholed Thursday insist they trust federal safety guidelines on beef processing.
In The Jaws Log, Gottlieb recalls a cocktail party at which New York Times political columnist and Vineyard regular James Reston buttonholed producer Zanuck and berated him for Hollywood's apparent lack of interest in celebrating the impending Bicentennial.
Earnest partisans of various of the 36 sites under consideration for the SSC buttonholed passersby in corridors to expatiate on the scenic, educational and commercial virtues of their neighborhoods.
But the left eye was left with an incomplete flap, or buttonholed flap, when the cornea was torn.