but
Pronunciation
  • (stressed) (British) IPA: /bʌt/, [bɐt], enPR: bŭt
  • (stressed) (America) IPA: /bʌt/, enPR: bŭt
  • (stressed) (Scotland), (Ireland) IPA: /bʊt/,
  • (unstressed) IPA: /bət/, enPR: bət

Preposition
  1. Apart from, except (for), excluding.
    Everyone but Father left early.
    I like everything but that.
    Nobody answered the door when I knocked, so I had no choice but to leave.
  2. (obsolete, outside, Scotland) Outside of.
    Away but the hoose and tell me whae's there.
Synonyms
Adverb

but (not comparable)

  1. (chiefly literary or poetic) Merely, only, just.
    Christmas comes but once a year.
    • 1791, Robert Burns, "Ae Fond Kiss":
      For to see her was to love her,
      Love but her, and love for ever.
    • 1900, L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
      Now the Wicked Witch of the West had but one eye, yet that was as powerful as a telescope, and could see everywhere.
    • 1977, Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace, New York Review Books, 2006, p.49:
      The stony outcrops are often covered but thinly with arable soil; winters are bitingly cold, and rainfall scanty and unpredictable.
    • 1990, Claude de Bèze, 1688 revolution in Siam: the memoir of Father de Bèze, s.j ↗, translated by E. W. Hutchinson, University Press, page 153:
      May the Protector of the Buddhist Faith grant me but seven more days grace of life to be quit of this disloyal couple, father and son.
    • 1611, King James Bible, 2 Kings vii. 4
      If they kill us, we shall but die.
  2. (Australian, Geordie, conjunctive) Though, however.
    I'll have to go home early but.
  3. Used as an intensifier.
    Nobody, but nobody, crosses me and gets away with it.
    • 2013 Nora Roberts, Irish Thoroughbred p. 25 ↗ (Little, Brown) ISBN 9781405523516
      "Jakers, but we worked." With a long breath she shut her eyes. "But it was too much for one woman and a half-grown girl […] "
Synonyms
Conjunction
  1. on the contrary, rather (as a regular adversative conjunction, introducing a word or clause in contrast or contradiction with the preceding negative clause or sentence).
    I am not rich but [I am] poor  not John but Peter went there.
  2. however, although, nevertheless, on the other hand (introducing a clause contrary to prior belief or in contrast with the preceding clause or sentence).
    She is very old but still attractive.
    You told me I could do that, but she said that I could not.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In Six Volumes, volume IV, London: Printed by A[ndrew] Millar, […], OCLC 928184292 ↗, book X:
      In reality, I apprehend every amorous widow on the stage would run the hazard of being condemned as a servile imitation of Dido, but that happily very few of our play-house critics understand enough of Latin to read Virgil.
  3. Except that (introducing a subordinate clause which qualifies a negative statement); also, with omission of the subject of the subordinate clause, acting as a negative relative, "except one that", "except such that".
    I cannot but feel offended.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 15, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗:
      There is no reason but hath another contrary unto it, saith the wisest party of Philosophers.
    • c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene iv]:
      And but my noble Moor is true of mind [...] it were enough to put him to ill thinking.
    • 1819, John Keats, “Lamia”, in Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, London: Printed [by Thomas Davison] for Taylor and Hessey, […], published 1820, OCLC 927360557 ↗, part II, page 43 ↗:
      A deadly silence step by step increased, / Until it seem'd a horrid presence there, / And not a man but felt the terror in his hair.
  4. (archaic) Without its also being the case that; unless that (introducing a necessary concomitant).
    It never rains but it pours.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.vi:
      No arboret with painted blossomes drest, / And smelling sweet, but there it might be found [...]
    • c. 1601, William Shakespeare, Hamlet, II.ii:
      For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so
  5. (obsolete) Except with; unless with; without.
    • So insolent that he could not go but either spurning equals or trampling on his inferiors.
    • Touch not the cat but a glove.
  6. (obsolete) Only; solely; merely.
    • 1641, John Milton, Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England: And the Cavvses that hitherto have hindred it., Printed, for Thomas Underhill; republished as Will Taliaferro Hale, editor, Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England (Yale Studies in English; LIV), New Haven: Yale University Press, 1916, OCLC 260112239 ↗:
      Observe but how their own principles combat one another.
    • a formidable man but to his friends
  7. (obsolete) Until.
    • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals):
      'Tshall not be long but I'll be here again.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations
Noun

but (plural buts)

  1. An instance or example of using the word "but".
    It has to be done – no ifs or buts.
  2. (Scotland) The outer room of a small two-room cottage.
  3. A limit; a boundary.
  4. The end; especially the larger or thicker end, or the blunt, in distinction from the sharp, end; the butt.

Verb

but (buts, present participle butting; past and past participle butted)

  1. (archaic) Use the word "but".
    But me no buts.



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