\ ˈbət How to pronounce but (audio) \

Definition of but

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : except for the fact would have protested but that he was afraid
b : that used after a negativethere is no doubt but he won
c : without the concomitant that it never rains but it pours
d : if not : unless
e : than no sooner started but it stopped not often in formal use
2a : on the contrary : on the other hand : notwithstanding used to connect coordinate elementshe was called but he did not answernot peace but a sword
b : yet poor but proud
c : with the exception of used before a word often taken to be the subject of a clausenone but the brave deserves the fair— John Dryden
but that
: that used after a negativethere is no doubt but that it must be done
but what
: that … not used to indicate possibility or uncertaintyI don't know but what I will go

Definition of but (Entry 2 of 5)

1a : with the exception of : barring no one there but me — compare but entry 1 sense 2c
b : other than this letter is nothing but an insult
2 Scotland

but

adverb

Definition of but (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : only, merely he is but a child
2 Scotland : outside
3 : to the contrary who knows but that she may succeed
4 used as an intensiveget there but fast

Definition of but (Entry 4 of 5)

: that not : who not nobody but has his fault— William Shakespeare

but

noun

Definition of but (Entry 5 of 5)

Scotland
: the kitchen or living quarters of a 2-room cottage

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Examples of but in a Sentence

Conjunction We had no choice but to leave. They've done nothing but argue all afternoon. Preposition There was no one there but him. I didn't tell anyone but my sister. Who but you would think that? Adverb They have but two weeks to get ready. she is but a child and too young to understand such things
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Recent Examples on the Web: Conjunction But scientists and doctors say things aren’t that simple — and a belief that exposing children to marijuana, either directly or indirectly, is harmless isn’t supported by the facts. Daniel M. Jimenez, The Cannifornian, "With cannabis use growing, doctors still caution to keep kids away from secondhand smoke," 22 June 2017 But with a full and volatile season behind them, the two have grown closer, prompting check-ins from Bradford last month, seeking tidbits from his coach who watched OTA practices on a tablet from his Kentucky retreat. Chad Graff, Twin Cities, "Vikings: Sam Bradford growing with insights from Mike Zimmer," 15 June 2017 The tech firm didn’t pull that video down, but reached out to police. Queenie Wong, The Mercury News, "Facebook to add thousands of workers to review violent posts and other offensive content," 3 May 2017 But campus leaders like Chancellor Vincent Fulginiti and many community donors had a bigger vision. Matthew Wynia, The Denver Post, "Here’s why Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has a world-class art gallery," 1 May 2017 Normally a chain moving here wouldn’t pique my interest too much, but this place has got some serious fans — called ‘ Allyson Reedy, The Know, "Rant: Is Raising Cane’s chicken really that good? Someone enlighten me, please.," 24 Apr. 2017 The powerhouse, year-round clubs might be peaking again but the strongest undercurrents Saturday came from team connections. Dan Albano, Orange County Register, "O.C. swimmers blaze 12 records at Foothill Swim Games (VIDEO)," 22 Apr. 2017 But enough do to make a significant dent in the prescription numbers. Christopher Ingraham, The Cannabist, "Study: National medical marijuana laws would save lives — and a billion taxpayer dollars," 21 Apr. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition Normally, big job losses trigger massive searches for full-time jobs, but this crisis has been anything but normal. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Laid-off workers start side hustles, business ventures to survive amid COVID-19 pandemic," 1 June 2020 Despite the pleas for calm, the nation seemed anything but as a fitful week drew to a close. Robert Klemko, Washington Post, "Former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death as protests continue nationwide," 30 May 2020 Despite the pleas for calm, the nation seemed anything but as a fitful week drew to a close. Robert Klemko, BostonGlobe.com, "Former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death as protests continue nationwide," 29 May 2020 The Big Ten hasn’t enacted a conference-wide date but Ohio State, which is scheduled to visit Oregon a week after NDSU on Sept. 12, has said its players will begin workouts June 8. oregonlive, "North Dakota State football players to start voluntary workouts June 1, 2 weeks before Oregon," 28 May 2020 These assumptions are in need of scrutiny, not by comparison with other countries but of this country with itself a few generations ago. Marilynne Robinson, The New York Review of Books, "What Kind of Country Do We Want?," 27 May 2020 Nick has more power but Joey is a bit more nimble -- everything else is essentially equal. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: The top individual matchups on the Cowboys’ 2020 schedule, including one of the best in all of football," 27 May 2020 Some people just believe that there’s no way but to just fight back. Chris Buckley, New York Times, "From ‘Respect’ to ‘Sick and Twisted’: How Coronavirus Hit U.S.-China Ties," 15 May 2020 Facebook has no option but to get its act together in India. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "The Reliance Jio deal could give Facebook a much-needed image makeover in India," 23 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Mahomes likely won’t get but deserves the MVP award after overcoming a slightly tougher road than Rodgers to get his conference’s top seed. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Aaron Rodgers, a “San Diego guy,” has his best Super Bowl shot in years," 28 Dec. 2020 Anyone meeting its representatives and leaders cannot but be impressed by their knowledge, education, and intelligence. Douglas Carr, National Review, "The Fed’s New Framework Can’t Solve Its Old Problem," 14 Sep. 2020 Pliskova jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second set, and while Wozniacki held her serve, Pliskova did not let up, winning all of her first serve points and all but two on her second serve. Alexa Philippou, Cincinnati.com, "Defending Western & Southern champ Pliskova rolls past Wozniacki into semis," 19 Aug. 2017 The controversies of this presidency have made bipartisan cooperation all but impossible, and there is not enough unity among Republicans to pass politically charged legislation on a partisan basis. James Capretta, National Review, "What Might Have Been," 19 Aug. 2017 However, according to reports from Argentine journalist Lucas Ajuria on Twitter, Simeone's future at Genoa is all but over, and Spurs are set to scrap it out with Serie A side Fiorentina for the player's signature. SI.com, "Argentine Journalist Claims Transfer-Shy Tottenham May Be Set to Land Genoa Striker," 2 Aug. 2017 By 5 p.m. Tuesday, some 1,200 workers, including tree and line crews from KCP&L and other utilities, had restored power to all but 2,400 customers. Lily O’neill, Shane Sanderson, And Lily Oppenheimer, kansascity, "Some Kansas City residents still without power after three days," 25 July 2017 The Bilali Document is a reminder of a history all but forgotten. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Why Religious Freedom and Diversity Flourished in Early America," 15 July 2017 Also, his change-up, which was a big weapon against lefty hitters in 2016, has all but disappeared. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Midseason grades for Tigers starters: Michael Fulmer the only standout," 13 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But there was a but of confusion from the judges and fans at home. Leah Rocketto, Woman's Day, "Who is Broccoli on 'The Masked Singer'? No, It's Not a Teen Like The Clues Imply," 29 Oct. 2020 But even the tech titans have lots of shrugs and buts. Shira Ovide, New York Times, "Big Tech’s Worries Should Worry You," 1 May 2020 That way there's no ifs, ands or buts about what's going on. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Trevor Bauer explains why he intentionally tipped his pitches; takes shot at Gerrit Cole for spin rate increase," 4 Mar. 2020 Ohio State yeah-buts teams like Rutgers all the time. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Browns raise the bar, get their first ‘yeah-but’ win in five years," 16 Sep. 2019 Investor advocates have long wanted one set of rules to apply to both advisors and brokers: that anyone handling money put investors’ interests first, with no ifs, ands or buts. Barry Ritholtz, latimes.com, "SEC’s new ‘best interest’ rule is just a guideline, and not best for investors," 24 June 2019 As for consumers who still subscribe to traditional cable and for whom these streaming services are just additive, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: the monthly fees are mounting. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "HBO, CNN, DC Comics, and more could join a streaming video service under AT&T," 10 Oct. 2018 Le meneur de jeu espagnol a marqué 10 buts et a offert 18 passes décisives cette saison. SI.com, "Barcelona Eyeing Shock Summer Move for Liverpool Flop Following Productive Season in Italy," 17 Apr. 2018 Weigh-in daily No ifs, ands, or buts, about it, get on the scale. Kimberly Garrison, Philly.com, "Three low-tech ways to lose 10 pounds before summer," 1 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'but.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of but

Conjunction

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Preposition

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Pronoun

circa 1518, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1724, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for but

Conjunction, Preposition, Adverb, and Pronoun

Middle English, from Old English būtan, preposition & conjunction, outside, without, except, except that; akin to Old High German būzan without, except; akin to Old English be by, ūt out — more at by entry 1, out entry 1

Noun

Scots but, adjective (outer)

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Time Traveler for but

Time Traveler

The first known use of but was before the 12th century

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Statistics for but

Cite this Entry

“But.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/but. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for but

How to pronounce but (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of but

 (Entry 1 of 3)

used to introduce a statement that adds something to a previous statement and usually contrasts with it in some way
: other than
used in speech at the beginning of a sentence that expresses surprise, shock, etc.

English Language Learners Definition of but (Entry 2 of 3)

: other than (something or someone)

but

noun

English Language Learners Definition of but (Entry 3 of 3)

: a reason someone gives for not doing or agreeing with something
\ bət How to pronounce but (audio) \

Kids Definition of but

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : yet nevertheless She fell but wasn't hurt. He was poor but proud.
2 : while just the opposite I ski but you don't.
3 : except that : unless It never rains but it pours.

Kids Definition of but (Entry 2 of 3)

: other than : except everyone but you

but

adverb

Kids Definition of but (Entry 3 of 3)

: only entry 2 sense 1 We have but one choice.

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More from Merriam-Webster on but

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for but

Nglish: Translation of but for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of but for Arabic Speakers

Comments on but

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