push someone's buttons, to

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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
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.

push (or press) someone's buttons

be successful in arousing or provoking a reaction in someone. informal
See also: button, push
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

push someone's buttons, to

To draw a strong emotional response from someone, usually negative. The term originated in the first half of the 1900s and has become a cliché. For example, “I said some negative things about the current administration and that really pushed Mary’s buttons—she exploded.” See also rub the wrong way.
See also: push
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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