Cute as a button

Cute as a button is an idiom with a cloudy etymology. We will examine the meaning of the idiom cute as a button, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Cute as a button describes something that is petite, adorable, or daintily attractive. The idiom cute as a button is a simile, which is a phrase used in a sentence that is a comparison of one thing with something else using the word like or the word as. There is much discussion as to where the expression cute as a button comes from. Perhaps the most plausible theory is that the word button in the phrase means the bud of a flower, rather than a type of fastener for clothing. The word cute is an abbreviation of the word acute. Originally, the word cute also meant sharp, but by the 1830s the word cute acquired its current meaning. When used as an adjective before a noun, the phrase is hyphenated as in cute-as-a-button. The simile structure cute as… is used for various comparisons, through cute as a button may be the most common. Another less popular simile is cute as a bug’s ear.

Examples

It’s not clear what prompted it, and it’s the last thing on anyone’s mind as the cute-as-a-button 4-year-old gazes into the camera while getting her hair cut. (The New York Daily News)

Everything “Star Wars” is bound to rocket to success, but there’s no doubt that the numerous products featuring “The Child,” aka cute-as-a-button “Baby Yoda,” will be in big demand. (The New York Post)

Sixteen-year-old high school student Olivia is cute as a button and brings her entire dance squad along as support. (Billboard Magazine)