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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 ?
Lots of you live in places that are "voter-rich" enough to draw candidates like flies to picnic chicken, and you might just have the opportunity to buttonhole one or two and pin 'em down long enough to get some answers--or at least some reactions.
When you do eventually buttonhole one, they often seem either surprised, baffled or even offended that you have dared disturb them.