Posted by Bruce Kahl on September 29, 2000
In Reply to: To buttonhole posted by Larry Hershfield on September 29, 2000
: I am curious about the origin of this expression
The transitive verb "buttonhole" is really an alteration of "buttonhold".
Think of how well a button catches and holds a piece of fabric when inserted into a button hole.
So to buttonhole someone is to detain in conversation as if by holding onto the outer garments of!
( I hate ending sentences with prepositions but I had no choice. )