on the contrary; yet: My brother went, but I did not.
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.
only; just: There is but one God.
buts, reservations or objections: You'll do as you're told, no buts about it.
Idioms about 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).
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
Other definitions for but (2 of 4)
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.
Other definitions for but (3 of 4)
a variant of butt5.
Other definitions for but- (4 of 4)
a combining form meaning “containing a group of four carbon atoms,” used in the formation of compound words: butene.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use but in a sentence
If ands and buts were candy and nuts,” Boehner said, “every day would be Christmas.
Her directness had made all possible 'buts' seem ridiculous and futile, and had made the expression of curiosity seem offensive.Hilda Lessways | Arnold Bennett
The other acknowledged the fact with some degree of reluctance, and explained, with many "buts" as an excuse in extenuation.
Notice the “nots” and “buts,” indicating the change from the negative to the positive statement.English: Composition and Literature | W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
How, having desired your Zelie without 'ifs' or 'buts' he found means to make his purpose good, Bibi-Ri!Where the Pavement Ends | John Russell
One of their punishments will be the corroding contemplation of the "ifs" and "buts" of their stupendous gamble.1914 | John French, Viscount of Ypres
British Dictionary definitions for but (1 of 2)
contrary to expectation: he cut his knee but didn't cry
in contrast; on the contrary: I like opera but my husband doesn't
(usually used after a negative) other than: we can't do anything but wait
(usually used after a negative) without it happening or being the case that: we never go out but it rains
(foll by that) except that: nothing is impossible but that we live forever
archaic if not; unless
informal used to introduce an exclamation: my, but you're nice
except; save: they saved all but one of the pigs
but for were it not for: but for you, we couldn't have managed
just; merely; only: he was but a child; I can but try
Scot, Australian and NZ informal though; however: it's a rainy day: warm, but
all but almost; practically: he was all but dead when we found him
an objection (esp in the phrase ifs and buts)
British Dictionary definitions for but (2 of 2)
the outer room of a two-roomed cottage: usually the kitchen
in or into the outer part (of a house): Compare ben 1
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
Other 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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.