Compliments are one of the many ways to brighten up someone’s day. One popular compliment in the English language is to describe someone or something as being “as cute as a button”. This article discusses how to use this phrase, its meaning, origin, and phrases synonymous with it.
What Does “Cute as a Button” Mean?
The phrase “cute as a button” is a way to describe someone or something that is very cute or adorable. It is usually paid as a compliment and said in a positive manner. In the literal sense, you are comparing someone or something to a button.
When you want to describe something or someone as being cute or adorable, one way to do it is to say that it is “as cute as a button”.
Two words are used here: “cute” and “button”. The word “cute” is used to positively describe something or someone small, young, or dainty. It is used to say that the thing being described is attractive in an adorable manner.
A button, on the other hand, is a small object used to fasten things together. It is often in a circular shape. It can be found on things like shirts, blouses, coats, pants, and many more items of clothing.
Essentially, by using the phrase “cute as a button” you are saying that an object, person, or animal is cute. You then emphasize your point by comparing the said object, person, or animal to a button.
The phrase “cute as a button” is usually preceded by the word “as”. As such, the construction of the statement is often as follows:
- [Object/Person/Animal] is as cute as a button!
What Is the Origin of “Cute as a Button”?
The origins of “cute as a button” is disputed. There are those who say that it comes from the longer phrase “cute as a button quail”. Others, on the other hand, argue that the button in the phrase is not the “button” used in clothing, but rather a flower bud.
The phrase “cute as a button” appeared in books about as early as 1931. However, the origins of the phrase are disputed.
The obvious answer to the question of the origins of “cute as a button” is that buttons used on clothing are small and may be considered dainty. Thus, it makes sense to describe something as “cute” by comparing it to the small buttons used on clothing.
However, there are people who argue that “cute as a button” comes from the older and longer phrase “cute as a button quail”. A button quail is a small quail that may be considered adorable by some.
Others, still, say that the phrase refers not to the buttons used on clothing, but to small flowers also referred to as “buttons”. This is further supported by the existence of small colorful flowers called “Bachelor’s button” that are native to Europe.
Interestingly, both “cute” and “button” are used in other similes that date further back than 1931, such as:
- Bright as a button
- Cute as a bug’s ear
“Bright as a button” dates back to approximately 1805, while “cute as a bug’s ear” dates back to around 1913. Perhaps “cute as a button” emerged as a sort of amalgamation of these older phrases.
How to Use “Cute as a Button” In A Sentence
“Cute as a button” is not considered a complete sentence on its own. It requires at least the following: a subject, a verb, and the word “as”.
The phrase “cute as a button” can be used with proper nouns. For example:
- Maurice is as cute as a button!
- Dana is as cute as a button.
It can be used when pronouns are the subject of the sentence:
- You are as cute as a button.
- Why, aren’t you as cute as a button!
- He is as cute as a button.
- She is as cute as a button.
It can also be used as part of a longer sentence, as follows:
- That outfit makes Hannah look as cute as a button!
- Tom looks as cute as a button wearing that costume.
- Lucy was as cute as a button when she was a little girl.
- People used to say that I looked as cute as a button as a child, but they stopped after I hit puberty.
You can also use this phrase to describe objects and animals. Take these sentences, for example:
- Your dog is as cute as a button.
- That outfit is as cute as a button!
- Her hamster is as cute as a button.
Is “Cute as a Button” a Metaphor”?
No, the phrase “cute as a button” is not a metaphor. It is a simile. This is because of the presence of the word “as”. Similes and metaphors both compare two different things. What distinguishes similes from metaphors, however, is the use of words such as “like” or “as”.
The phrase “cute as a button” is a simile, not a metaphor.
Similes and metaphors are figures of speech. They are similar in that they both compare two different things with each other. However, similes are different from metaphors.
Similes compare two different things by using words such as “like” or “as”. Take the following similes, for example:
- She was as cute as a button
- She was as quiet as a mouse
- She was pretty as a doll.
These similes can be transformed into metaphors by taking out the words “like” or “as”.
- She was a button in the way that she looked today.
- She was a mouse in the way that she walked.
- She was a doll.
“Cute as a Button” – Synonyms
Below are some phrases that are synonymous with “cute as a button”:
- cute as a bug
- cute as a bug’s ear
- cute as a bug in a rug
- cute as a kitten
- pretty as a peach
You can use the phrase “cute as a button” when you want to describe someone or something that is very cute or adorable. You can often hear this phrase said positively and used as a compliment. It is a simile comparing someone or something to a button.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.