- The definition of but is only or merely.
An example of but is there is just one president of the United States.
- But means except for, unless or on the contrary.
An example of but is to say everything except the kitchen sink.
- But is defined as with the exception of.
An example of but is everyone aside from me.
- with the exception of; excepting; save [nobody came but me]: earlier, and still sometimes, regarded as a conjunction and followed by the nominative case [nobody came but I (came)]
- except; other than: used with an infinitive as the object: we cannot choose but (to) stay
Origin of butMiddle English from Old English butan, buton, without, outside; West Germanic compound from an unverified form be-, an unverified form bi-, by + an unverified form utana, from without: see out
- and in spite of this; and even so; yet: he is a villain, but he has some virtues
- and on the contrary: I am old, but you are young
- unless; except that: it never rains but it pours
- that: I don't question but you're correct
- that . . . not: it's not so high but we can jump it
- only: if I had but known
- merely; no more than; not otherwise than: he is but a child
- just: I heard it but now
- on the other hand; yet: used to introduce a sentence
- Slang absolutely; positively: he did it, but good
- about the fact that: I've no doubt but that he'll come
- that there is not some chance that: we can't be sure but that he's right
Origin of butakin to but
but and ben
- On the contrary: the plan caused not prosperity but ruin.
- Contrary to expectation; yet: She organized her work but accomplished very little. He is tired but happy.
- Usage Problem Used to indicate an exception: No one but she saw the prowler.
- With the exception that; except that. Often used with that: would have joined the band but he couldn't spare the time; would have resisted but that they lacked courage.
- Informal Without the result that: It never rains but it pours.
- Informal That. Often used after a negative: There is no doubt but right will prevail.
- That … not. Used after a negative or question: There never is a tax law presented but someone will oppose it.
- If not; unless: “Ten to one but the police have got them” ( Charlotte M. Yonge )
- Informal Than: They had no sooner arrived but they turned around and left.
- Merely; just; only: hopes that lasted but a moment.
- Used as an intensive: Get out of here but fast!
Origin of butMiddle English from Old English būtan ; see ud- in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: Traditional grammarians have worried over what form the pronoun ought to take when but is used to indicate an exception in sentences such as No one but I (or No one but me ) has read it. Some have argued that but is a conjunction in these sentences and therefore should be followed by the nominative form I. However, many of these grammarians have gone on to argue somewhat inconsistently that the objective form me is appropriate when the but phrase occurs at the end of a sentence, as in No one has read it but me. In fact, there is a strong case for viewing but as a preposition in all of these constructions. For one thing, if but were truly a conjunction, the verb should agree in person and number with the noun or pronoun following but, and so the verb should always be plural when the noun or pronoun following but is plural. It would thus be correct to say No one but the students have read it, even though no one is normally treated as a singular. What is more, a conjunction cannot be moved to the end of a clause, as a prepositional phrase can be, as in No one has read it but the students. By comparison, the conjunction and cannot be repositioned in this way. That is, it is not grammatical to say John left and everyone else in the class. For these reasons it seems best to consider but as a preposition in these constructions and to use the objective forms of pronouns such as me and them in all positions. A large majority of the Usage Panel agreed with this policy as long ago as 1988, when only 17 percent accepted No one has read it but I, and 30 percent accepted No one but I has read it. The use of me was acceptable to 70 percent of the Panel when the but phrase preceded the verb, and to 90 percent when the but phrase followed the verb. • But is redundant when used together with however, as in But the army, however, went on with its plans; one or the other word should be eliminated. • But is generally not followed by a comma. Correct written style requires Kim wanted to go, but we stayed, not Kim wanted to go, but, we stayed. • But may be used to begin a sentence at all levels of style. See Usage Note at and. See Usage Note at cannot. See Usage Note at doubt. See Usage Note at however. See Usage Note at I 1.
Origin of but-From butyric
- Without, apart from, except.
- Everyone but Father left early.
- I like everything but that.
- Except (f), excluding. Preceded by a negation.
- I have no choice but to leave.
- On the contrary, but rather (introducing a word or clause that contrasts with or contradicts the preceding clause or sentence without the not).
- I am not rich but (I am) poor; not John but Peter went there
- However, although, nevertheless (implies that the following clause is contrary to prior belief or contrasts with or contradicts 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.
- 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.
- Without it also being the case that; unless that (introducing a necessary concomitant).
- It never rains but it pours.
- Motto of the Mackintoshes
- Touch not the cat but a glove.
- Bible, 2 Kings vii. 4
- If they kill us, we shall but die.
- a formidable man but to his friends
- Beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction such as but is considered incorrect by classical grammarians arguing that a coordinating conjunction at the start of a sentence has nothing to connect, but use of the word in this way is very common. It is, however, best to avoid beginning a sentence with but in formal writing. Combining sentences or using however, nevertheless, still, or though is appropriate for the formal style.
- But this tool has its uses.
- This tool has its uses, however.
- Nevertheless, this tool has its uses.
- Still, this tool has its uses.
- This tool still has its uses.
- This tool has its uses, though.
- The use of the word but preceded by a comma is also considered incorrect by classical grammarians.
- I was very tired, but I decided to continue.
- It was a lovely day, but rain looked likely.
From Middle English but, buten, boute, bouten, from Old English būtan (“out of, outside of, off, round about, except, without, all but, but only, besides, in addition to, in spite of, except that, save, but, only, unless, save that, if only, provided that, outside”), equivalent to be- + out. Cognate with Scots but, bot (“outside, without, but”), West Frisian bûten (“outside of, apart from, other than, except, but”), Dutch buiten (“outside”), German Low German buuten, buute (“outside”), Dutch Low Saxon buten (“outside”). Compare bin, about.