The word ‘cute’ originates from the English meaning of ‘acute’ or clever and over time this generalised to charming and attractive and always with the connotation of being small.
In America, during the 1920s and 1930s, the words ‘cute’ and ‘keen’ were overused slang words with the phrase ‘cute as a button’ evolving from that time period - 1930 ‘cute as a bug’s ear’; 1942 ‘cute as a bug in a rug’ and 1946 ‘cute as a button’ came into its own. The other school of through is that the phrase ‘button’ is not intended as a shirt button but rather a flower bud of small flowers such as bachelors button.
The English version is ‘bright as a button’, which makes sense during that time period of polished brass buttons. The phrase is only ever associated with small children.
Till next time …
Kim & Kate