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#1 2008-08-14 13:57:01

Bill Walderman
Member
From: Springfield, VA, USA
Registered: 2008-08-14
Posts: 2

button-hold vs. button-hole

A week ago or so I came across the verb “button-hold” in Henry James’ novel, The Portrait of a Lady, used in the same sense as “buttonhole” is now used, i.e., to detain someone in conversation against their will. Apparently, “button-hold” is the original term and “button-hole” began its career as an eggcorn formed by final t/d deletion, as this reference notes:

http://books.google.com/books?id=tvRp1w … 7wTmwyNJIA

Last edited by Bill Walderman (2008-08-14 14:05:21)

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#2 2008-08-14 15:12:33

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2147
Website

Re: button-hold vs. button-hole

Cool! I didn’t know that. It makes sense.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#3 2008-08-14 15:26:53

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: button-hold vs. button-hole

Yes, indeed. And welcome to the forum, Bill.

I posted on a related folk etymology some time ago. On the etymology of a ship’s “hold,” the OED has this comment:

[Corruption of earlier HOLL, HOLE, prob. by association with HOLD n.1 Cf. also MDu. and Du. hol (a1500) in same sense.]

The same two words, but with the reshaping headed the opposite direction.

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#4 2008-08-14 17:11:37

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: button-hold vs. button-hole

Thanks Bill, and welcome to our crazy little world. I’ve been pondering this off and on all day. I’ve spent my whole conscious life thinking the correct usage was “buttonholed” and never before today have I heard of “button-hold.” I find it interesting that each has its own complimentary imagery. “Buttonholed” implies to me the image of someone with their finger through a button hole, thereby preventing the unwilling listener’s egress. In contrast, “button-hold” creates the image of someone holding on to or literally gripping the unwilling listener’s button, again to prevent egress. The net effect of either imagery is the same in a kind of odd sort of way. Hmm…

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#5 2008-08-14 17:26:14

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2147
Website

Re: button-hold vs. button-hole

Most hits on “buttonheld” seem to be referring to variables of that name in computer programs. But there are a few:

La Crise Metcalfe and the Montreal Election, 1843–1844
“was buttonheld by many a. curious and excited enquirer. “• And while tempers grew hot and. speculation. wild in the lobbies of the House, ...
utpjournals.metapress.com/index/4W324W5R11PMJ921.pdf

had personally or overheard others having with the CO brass who were most kind with their time, patience and willingness to be buttonholed (buttonheld? ...
www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=418838

I go and pick the frog up today and am buttonheld by her primary carer. “I didn’t want to tell you yesterday in front of the others but Lorna was way ahead

The OED reports a pre-political usage: “Charles Lamb, being buttonheld one day by Coleridge . . . cut off the button.” The word was adopted by politicians … [William Safire]

“Buttonholded” sure brings up a bizarre bunch of links. Try it. What’s with that?


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#6 2008-08-14 20:26:36

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2589

Re: button-hold vs. button-hole

rogerthat says

“I find it interesting that each has its own complimentary imagery. “Buttonholed” implies to me the image of someone with their finger through a button hole, thereby preventing the unwilling listener’s egress. In contrast, “button-hold” creates the image of someone holding on to or literally gripping the unwilling listener’s button, again to prevent egress.”

Looks to me like an example of “a photonegative homology between absence and presence” (See, Pat, I do read your posts.).


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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