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  1. the end or extremity of anything, especially the thicker, larger, or blunt end considered as a bottom, base, support, or handle, as of a log, fishing rod, or pistol.
  2. an end that is not used or consumed; remnant: a cigar butt.
  3. a lean cut of pork shoulder.
  4. Slang. the buttocks.
  5. Slang. a cigarette.

Origin of butt1

1400–50; late Middle English bott (thick) end, buttock, Old English butt tree stump (in place names); akin to Swedish but stump, Danish but stubby; cf. buttock
Can be confusedbut butt


  1. a person or thing that is an object of wit, ridicule, sarcasm, contempt, etc.
  2. a target.
  3. (on a rifle range)
    1. a wall of earth located behind the targets to prevent bullets from scattering over a large area.
    2. butts,a wall behind which targets can be safely lowered, scored, and raised during firing practice.
  4. butt hinge.
  5. Obsolete. a goal; limit.
verb (used without object)
  1. to have an end or projection on; be adjacent to; abut.
verb (used with object)
  1. to position or fasten an end (of something).
  2. to place or join the ends (of two things) together; set end-to-end.

Origin of butt2

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French but target, goal, probably ≪ Old Norse bútr butt1, from the use of a wooden block or stump as a target in archery, etc.


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. victim, target, mark, dupe, gull, laughingstock, prey, pigeon, patsy.


verb (used with object)
  1. to strike or push with the head or horns.
verb (used without object)
  1. to strike or push something or at something with the head or horns.
  2. to project.
  3. Machinery. (of wheels in a gear train) to strike one another instead of meshing.
  1. a push or blow with the head or horns.
Verb Phrases
  1. butt in, to meddle in the affairs or intrude in the conversation of others; interfere: It was none of his concern, so he didn't butt in.
  2. butt out, to stop meddling in the affairs or intruding in the conversation of others: Nobody asked her opinion, so she butted out.

Origin of butt3

1150–1200; Middle Englishbutten < Anglo-French buter, Old French boter to thrust, strike < Germanic; compare Middle Dutch botten to strike, sprout


  1. a large cask for wine, beer, or ale.
  2. any cask or barrel.
  3. any of various units of capacity, usually considered equal to two hogsheads.

Origin of butt4

1350–1400; Middle English bote < Anglo-French bo(u)t(e); Middle French < Old Provençal bota < Late Latin butta, buttis, akin to Greek boût(t)is


or but

  1. any of several flatfishes, especially the halibut.

Origin of butt5

1250–1300; Middle English butte; cognate with Sw butta turbot, German Butt brill, turbot, flounder, Dutch bot flounder
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for butt

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • You've made me your butt, your fool, your doer of trivial offices.


    William J. Locke

  • Andrew sat with the butt of his rifle ground into his forehead.

  • There ain't a rotten knot in it from butt to finish, and mighty few of any other kind.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • But whenever he has the power, depend upon it, he will butt at one as valiantly as the other.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • A loop in the butt of the bull whip was about the young man's wrist.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

British Dictionary definitions for butt


  1. the thicker or blunt end of something, such as the end of the stock of a rifle
  2. the unused end of something, esp of a cigarette; stub
  3. tanning the portion of a hide covering the lower backside of the animal
  4. US and Canadian informal the buttocks
  5. US a slang word for cigarette
  6. building trades short for butt joint, butt hinge

Word Origin

C15 (in the sense: thick end of something, buttock): related to Old English buttuc end, ridge, Middle Dutch bot stumpy


  1. a person or thing that is the target of ridicule, wit, etc
  2. shooting archery
    1. a mound of earth behind the target on a target range that stops bullets or wide shots
    2. the target itself
    3. (plural)the target range
  3. a low barrier, usually of sods or peat, behind which sportsmen shoot game birds, esp grouse
  4. archaic goal; aim
  1. (usually foll by on or against) to lie or be placed end on to; abutto butt a beam against a wall

Word Origin

C14 (in the sense: mark for archery practice): from Old French but; related to French butte knoll, target


  1. to strike or push (something) with the head or horns
  2. (intr) to project; jut
  3. (intr ; foll by in or into) to intrude, esp into a conversation; interfere; meddle
  4. butt out informal, mainly US and Canadian to stop interfering or meddling
  1. a blow with the head or horns
Derived Formsbutter, noun

Word Origin

C12: from Old French boter, of Germanic origin; compare Middle Dutch botten to strike; see beat, button


  1. a large cask, esp one with a capacity of two hogsheads, for storing wine or beer
  2. a US unit of liquid measure equal to 126 US gallons

Word Origin

C14: from Old French botte, from Old Provençal bota, from Late Latin buttis cask, perhaps from Greek butinē chamber pot


  1. Dame Clara . 1872–1936, English contralto
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for butt


"thick end," c.1400, butte, which probably is related to Middle Dutch and Dutch bot, Low German butt "blunt, dull," Old Norse bauta (see beat (v.)). Or related somehow to Old English buttuc "end, small piece of land," and Old Norse butr "short." In sense of "human posterior" it is recorded from mid-15c. Meaning "remainder of a smoked cigarette" first recorded 1847.


"liquor barrel," late 14c., from Anglo-French but and Old French bot "barrel, wineskin" (14c., Modern French botte), from Late Latin buttis "cask" (see bottle (n.)). Cognate with Spanish and Portuguese bota, Italian botte. Usually a cask holding 108 to 140 gallons, or roughly two hogsheads, but the measure varied greatly.


"target of a joke," 1610s, originally "target for shooting practice" (mid-14c.), from Old French but "aim, goal, end, target (of an arrow, etc.)," 13c., which seems to be a fusion of Old French words for "end" (bout) and "aim, goal" (but), both ultimately from Germanic. The latter is from Frankish *but "stump, stock, block," or some other Germanic source (cf. Old Norse butr "log of wood"), which would connect it with butt (n.1).


"hit with the head," c.1200, from Anglo-French buter, from Old French boter "to push, shove, knock; to thrust against," from Frankish or another Germanic source (cf. Old Norse bauta, Low German boten "to strike, beat"), from Proto-Germanic *butan, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike" (see batter (v.)). Related: Butted; butting. To butt in "rudely intrude" is American English, attested from 1900.


"flat fish," c.1300, a general Germanic name applied to various kinds of flat fishes; cf. Old Swedish but "flatfish," German Butte, Dutch bot, perhaps ultimately related to butt (n.1). "Hence butt-woman, who sells these, a fish-wife." [OED]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper