That chatty nonno at the bottom of your road who’s determined to stop you for a half-hour lecture about his zinnias each time you pass by? He’s an attaccabottoni.
It means someone who, literally, “attaches your buttons”: the image it conjures up is of someone keeping you a little too close for a little too long, as if they were repairing the jacket you’re wearing. Or, as we’d say in English, buttonholing you.
A literal “button-attacher” for sale on Kijiji.
In other words, they’ll talk your ear off, whether you want them to or not.
È un tremendo attaccabottoni.
He’s such a windbag.
The nice thing, for those of us who sometimes struggle to remember which ending to use, is that attaccabottoni is invariable: whether you’re talking about a man or a women, one windbag or – heaven forbid – a whole crowd of them, the word doesn’t change.
Camminava rapida per scoraggiare gli attaccabottoni.
She walked quickly to discourage buttonholers.
The term is sort of a pun in Italian, because attaccare discorso con qualcuno means ‘to strike up conversation with someone’. And you’ll sometimes see the phrase attaccare bottone used to mean ‘start a conversation’ or ‘make an approach’, especially with someone new.
In fact there are even self-help guides on how to attaccare bottone with an attractive stranger; but please, please, read the signals and take the hint when you’re pinning anybody – or their buttons – down.