[Ads-l] buttoning up and down

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jan 3 15:26:06 UTC 2016

Radio sports commentator Mike Francesa just noted on his NFL preview show today that it's hard to know whether the injured Bilal Powell of the New York Jets will play in today's game or be sidelined "because they've been very buttoned down about it".  For me, this could only be "buttoned up", i.e. unforthcoming (OED s.v. "buttoned" 2b: 'uncommunicative'), while "buttoned down" can only be something like 'conservative in decorum, uptight' (OED, draft additions, 2: 
'[With allusion to the supposed characteristics of those who wear shirts with buttoned-down collars.] Having, designating, or characteristic of a conventional or conservative attitude; staid; repressed')
(One of the early cites alludes to Bob Newhart's 1960 record album "The Buttoned-Down Mind")

Has this distinction, which for me goes just as the OED describes, begun to blur for others, or is it just Mike Francesa?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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