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Question 1 of 7

Idioms for but

    but for, except for; were it not for: But for the excessive humidity, it might have been a pleasant day.
    but what. what(def 25).

Origin of but

before 900; Middle English buten, Old English būtan for phrase be ūtan on the outside, without. See by1, out

synonym study for but

1. But, however, nevertheless, still, yet are words implying opposition (with a possible concession). But marks an opposition or contrast, though in a casual way: We are going, but we shall return. However indicates a less marked opposition, but displays a second consideration to be compared with the first: We are going; however ( “notice this also” ), we shall return. Nevertheless implies a concession, something which should not be forgotten in making a summing up: We are going; nevertheless ( “do not forget that” ), we shall return. Still implies that in spite of a preceding concession, something must be considered as possible or even inevitable: We have to go on foot; still ( “it is probable and possible that” ), we'll get there. Yet implies that in spite of a preceding concession, there is still a chance for a different outcome: We are going; yet ( “in spite of all, some day” ), we shall return. 2. See except1.

usage note for but

1. But, like and, is a common transitional word and often begins sentences. When it is used in the middle of a sentence as a coordinating conjunction like and or so, it is not followed by a comma unless the comma is one of a pair setting off a parenthetical expression: His political affiliations make no difference, but his lack of ethics does. The cast is nearly complete, but, our efforts notwithstanding, we lack a star. See also and, so1.
2, 10. When but is understood as a conjunction and the pronoun following it is understood as the subject of an incompletely expressed clause, the pronoun is in the subjective case: Everyone lost faith in the plan but she ( did not lose faith ). In virtually identical contexts, when but is understood as a preposition, the pronoun following it is in the objective case: Everyone lost faith but her. The prepositional use is more common. However, when prepositional but and its following pronoun occur near the beginning of a sentence, the subjective case often appears: Everyone but she lost faith in the plan. See also doubt, than.


but butt

Definition for but (2 of 5)

[ buht ]
/ bʌt /

noun Scot.

the outer or front room of a house; the outer or front apartment in an apartment house.
the kitchen of a two-room dwelling, especially of a cottage.

Origin of but

1715–25; noun use of but1 (adv.) outside, outside the house

Definition for but (3 of 5)

[ buht ]
/ bʌt /

Definition for but (4 of 5)


or but

[ buht ]
/ bʌt /

any of several flatfishes, especially the halibut.

Origin of butt

1250–1300; Middle English butte; cognate with Sw butta turbot, German Butt brill, turbot, flounder, Dutch bot flounder

Definition for but (5 of 5)


a combining form meaning “containing a group of four carbon atoms,” used in the formation of compound words: butene.

Origin of but-

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for but (1 of 7)

Word Origin for but

Old English būtan without, outside, except, from be by + ūtan out; related to Old Saxon biūtan, Old High German biūzan

British Dictionary definitions for but (2 of 7)

/ (bʌt) Scot /


the outer room of a two-roomed cottage: usually the kitchen

preposition, adverb

in or into the outer part (of a house)Compare ben 1

Word Origin for but

C18: from but (adv) outside, hence, outer room; see but 1

British Dictionary definitions for but (3 of 7)

/ (bʌt) /


Dame Clara . 1872–1936, English contralto

British Dictionary definitions for but (4 of 7)

/ (bʌt) /


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

Word Origin for butt

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

British Dictionary definitions for but (5 of 7)

/ (bʌt) /


a person or thing that is the target of ridicule, wit, etc
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
a low barrier, usually of sods or peat, behind which sportsmen shoot game birds, esp grouse
archaic goal; aim


(usually foll by on or against) to lie or be placed end on to; abutto butt a beam against a wall

Word Origin for butt

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

British Dictionary definitions for but (6 of 7)

/ (bʌt) /


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


a blow with the head or horns

Derived forms of butt

butter, noun

Word Origin for butt

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

British Dictionary definitions for but (7 of 7)

/ (bʌt) /


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

Word Origin for butt

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

Idioms and Phrases with but


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.