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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
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 ?
The volunteers had something like a two-month wait for their smart new blue uniforms and the first piece of equipment they were given was a little white buttonholed badge with the letters "GR" either side of the royal crown and the words "Birmingham Battalion 1914" below.
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.
Dr Haralabos Eleftheriadis, 43, told a hearing of the General Medical Council that he had performed thousands of similar operations in his career but it was the first time a patient's eye had "buttonholed".
jDURING an agreeable evening at the 2004 TV Golden Moments, I was buttonholed by Jonathan Ross who wanted to tell me that his new Ford Thunderbird is the knees of the bee.
The Hepburn of these pages--familiar from all the TV interviews she gave in later years--would have buttonholed the grocery delivery boy to ask, "What do you think was Spencer's problem?" Berg's answer--Tracy was the alcoholic; Hepburn, the enabler--may have taken guts to tell Hepburn but seems perfectly obvious to the rest of us.