4

Example with a context (Special Report: Russian soldiers quit over Ukraine):

The soldier, who asked that he and his unit not be identified, told Reuters that in the summer of 2014 his team took up position about 2 km (one mile) from the Ukrainian border in the Rostov region of southwest Russia. The operation appeared to be an exercise, though the men were ordered to prepare as if for real combat.

"We drove there without insignia. We took off all the buttonholes and stripes. We were told that we did not need them in field conditions."

I don't think I understand what kind of buttonholes they're talking about. In American usage, buttonholes are those little slits in your jacket that you use for fastening the jacket with buttons to keep it secure when you go out. In British English, they look like artificial flowers that you attach to the upper part of your jacket usually for some sort of ceremonial purposes during events such as a wedding, for example.

Obviously, if it is the first usage, then you can't possibly take them off because, well, they're holes, they're part of the garment. In the second case, why would a soldier wear buttonholes?

  • In British English they usually refer to the holes for putting your buttons through too. Buttonhole flowers (boutonnières) are only also called that because they go, or originally went, through the buttonhole. – starsplusplus May 12 '15 at 9:48
8

Buttonholes in this case are military insignia or awards worn in the buttonhole of the uniform - examples can be seen here (top two images) and here (first and fourth image), another type here.

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