Cute as a Button – Origin and Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

When learning and using the English language, you’ll come across several phrases and expressions that can add color and a bit of whimsy to your conversations. One example is the charming expression “cute as a button.” But can a button be cute?

It’s a phrase often used to describe endearing qualities, whether in a person or an object. But where did it come from, and how many ways can you use it? I’ll explain everything you need to know.

Meaning of Cute as a Button

Cute as a Button Origin Meaning

You’d use the phrase “cute as a button” to describe people or things that are very cute or charming, usually in a small or delicate way. It is typically utilized when talking about kids and animals, which usually evoke a sense of admiration or adoration within us just by looking at them.

Take my Old English Bulldog, for example. Allie McBull is now a full-grown dog, but when she was a little puppy with all her wrinkles, she was cute as a button!

Is Cute as a Button a Simile or Idiom?

This question always sparks a debate! But the real answer is that it can be both! An idiom is a phrase that isn’t literal in its meaning, and a simile is when you compare two things using the words “as” or “like.”

So, “cute as a button” is both an idiom and a simile by those definitions because it’s not literal, but you are comparing two things.

Origin of Cute as a Button

It was originally “bright as a button,” which originated in British English and was used to show something tiny and shiny or adorable. The phrase morphed into “cute as a button” sometime during the late 1800s, and other phrases popped up with the same, or at least similar meanings like “cute as a bug in a rig” or “cute as a bug’s ear.” Funnily enough, “cute as a button” never did refer to an actual button but a flower bud.

Other Ways to Say Cute as a Button

  • Adorable
  • Cute
  • Charming
  • Sweet
  • Enchanting
  • Lovable
  • Delightful
  • Darling
  • Irresistible

Cute as a Button Examples in a Sentence

Cute as a Button Origin Meaning 1
  • The newborn kitten we just got is cute as a button, with its tiny paws and soft fur.
  • My niece, dressed in her pink tutu, looked cute as a button on stage while performing in her ballet recital.
  • The small flower arrangement my husband put on the table was cute as a button and added a touch of charm to the room as our dinner guests arrived.
  • I was cute as a button when I was a kid!
  • Our daughter’s cartoonish giggle is always cute as a button and makes everyone smile.
  • The little bakery on the corner was cute as a button with its pastel esthetic and bubbly sign out front. We just had to go in and check it out.

As Cute as…

Whether it’s cute as a button, cute as a kitten, cute as a bug’s ear, or any other form of the common expression, the meaning remains the same; something small and adorable. Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the phrase, try using it in your conversations and writing.

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