1. arouse or provoke a strong emotional reaction in someone
knows how to push somebody's buttons
If you 'push someones buttons' or 'press someone's buttons' you are deliberately irritating them or causing them to react negatively in a strong way. "Graham always interrupts Lara when she is speaking, he knows it really pushes her buttons." "I told myself not to let her upset me but she knows how to push all my buttons." To 'push someone's buttons' can also mean to excite someone in a sexual way. "He knows all the right buttons to press."