push (one's) buttons

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push (one's) buttons

1. To do things that create a very strong emotional reaction in one, especially anger, irritation, or exasperation. I hate Dave's new boyfriend, he's always trying to push my buttons, and he's doing a good job of it! No one will be able to push your buttons like your children, but it's all a part of the adventure of parenthood.
2. To be sexually attractive or arousing to one. A guy who knows how to cook really pushes my buttons.
See also: button, push

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]
See also: button, push

push (or press) someone's buttons

be successful in arousing or provoking a reaction in someone. informal
See also: button, push

ˌpush somebody’s ˈbuttons

(also ˌpress somebody’s ˈbuttons especially in British English ) (informal) make somebody react, especially in an angry or excited way: I almost never lose my temper, but this guy can really push my buttons.I’ve known him for years, but I still don’t really know what pushes his buttons.
See also: button, push