I discovered that the fear of buttons is called koumpounophobia. I've been trying to look up it's etymology, but my usual sources are failing me: etymonline, wiktionary and wikipedia don't provide any relevant information. Can anyone tell me the etymology of this word?


1 Answer 1


Below is a passage from a blog site which explains its Greek roots:

It comes from the modern Greek word for "to button," κουμπούνω, (koumpouno) which comes from the ancient Greek word for "bean" (κύαμος, kuamos), which makes sense, because the ancients didn't have buttons, but some buttons resemble beans, + πονέω (poneo), "to work hard." So you can see where the modern Greek word comes from. Check any modern Greek dictionary, attach "-phobia" to the noun form, and you've got yourself, well, a legitimately rooted word.


Another similar explanation from a blog site with some additional details:

The word for button in modern Greek is κουμπί (/kumbi/), but this is not the word used, although clearly related, by whoever invented this word. The word taken appears to be the verb ‘to button’, in modern Greek “κουμπούνω” or “κουμπώνω” (/kumbono/).

However, this word does come from the ancient Greek words for “broad bean” (haba) which is “κύαμος” (kuamos) and the verb “πονέω” (poneo) = “to work, to make an effort”.


  • Odd to use the verb. You'd think it would mean ‘fear of buttoning things (up)’, rather than just a fear of buttons in general. Sep 6, 2014 at 0:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: It involves the fear of buttoning also because it makes you touch and see the button. For example, check this article: huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/…
    – ermanen
    Sep 6, 2014 at 0:12

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