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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.
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Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


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.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
These qualities buttonhole us up front, but we then move on to the works' many complicating elements: the way the horizontal lines of the grid sometimes share colors with the panels they touch, softening the structure as they merge; the variety of shades of one color that may appear in a painting, in a game of cooler and warmer, recession and advance; the different ways of dealing with the canvases' edges and corners; the brushy irregularities of the lines and surfaces, never quite straight, never quite flat, often with traces of earlier layers showing through; and the ultimate unpredictability of a structure that at first seems a formula but is never exactly repeated.