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To buttonhole

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. )