- on the contrary; yet: My brother went, but I did not.
- except; save: She was so overcome with grief she could do nothing but weep.
- unless; if not; except that (followed by a clause, often with that expressed): Nothing would do but that I should come in.
- without the circumstance that: It never rains but it pours.
- otherwise than: There is no hope but by prayer.
- that (used especially after doubt, deny, etc., with a negative): I don't doubt but he will do it.
- who not; that not: No leaders worthy of the name ever existed but they were optimists.
- (used as an intensifier to introduce an exclamatory expression): But she's beautiful!
- Informal. than: It no sooner started raining but it stopped.
- with the exception of; except; save: No one replied but me.
- only; just: There is but one God.
- buts, reservations or objections: You'll do as you're told, no buts about it.
- 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 but1
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.
- 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 but2
- any of several flatfishes, especially the halibut.
Origin of butt5
- a combining form meaning “containing a group of four carbon atoms,” used in the formation of compound words: butene.
Origin of but-
- contrary to expectationhe cut his knee but didn't cry
- in contrast; on the contraryI like opera but my husband doesn't
- (usually used after a negative) other thanwe can't do anything but wait
- (usually used after a negative) without it happening or being the case thatwe never go out but it rains
- (foll by that) except thatnothing is impossible but that we live forever
- archaic if not; unless
- informal used to introduce an exclamationmy, but you're nice
- except; savethey saved all but one of the pigs
- but for were it not forbut for you, we couldn't have managed
- just; merely; onlyhe was but a child; I can but try
- Scot, Australian and NZ informal though; howeverit's a rainy day: warm, but
- all but almost; practicallyhe was all but dead when we found him
- an objection (esp in the phrase ifs and buts)
- the outer room of a two-roomed cottage: usually the kitchen
- in or into the outer part (of a house)Compare ben 1
- Dame Clara . 1872–1936, English contralto
- 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
- a person or thing that is the target of ridicule, wit, etc
- shooting archery
- a mound of earth behind the target on a target range that stops bullets or wide shots
- the target itself
- (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
- 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
- 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 and History for but
"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]
Idioms and Phrases with but
In addition to the idioms beginning with but
- but for
- but good
- all but
- all over but the shouting
- anything but
- can't help but
- close but no cigar
- everything but the kitchen sink
- it never rains but it pours
- last but not least
- no ifs or buts
- nothing but
- sadder but wiser
- separate but equal
- slow but sure
- spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
- there but for the grace of god