\ 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 negative there 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 elements he 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 clause none but the brave deserves the fair— John Dryden
but that
: that used after a negative there is no doubt but that it must be done
but what
: that … not used to indicate possibility or uncertainty I 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

b : outside

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 intensive get there but fast

but

pronoun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for but

Synonyms: Conjunction

except (also excepting), only, saving, yet

Synonyms: Preposition

apart from, aside from, bar, barring, beside, besides, except (also excepting), except for, excluding, exclusive of, other than, outside, outside of, save, saving

Synonyms: Adverb

just, merely, only, purely, simply

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

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

Witnesses said the two were all over each other and were making out, leaving Khloé with no other choice but to officially end things with the basketball player. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "9 Signs Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson Did In Fact Hook Up," 22 Feb. 2019 For many, having a medical condition such as celiac disease means that there is no choice but to eliminate certain foods. SELF, "PSA: Healthy Eating Should Include Mental and Social Health, Too.," 11 Jan. 2019 Because Harry is a legit royal, the person had no choice but to do so, pulling down his pants to reveal the same silk camouflage Speedo underneath. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Just Wore a Silk Camouflage Speedo on Live TV, and I'm Dead," 23 Oct. 2018 Often times, Master Number 11's intuitive gifts are a result of extreme life circumstances: Master Number 11 has no choice but to cultivate extrasensory talents. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "The Basics of Numerology: How to Calculate Your Life Path and Destiny Numbers," 16 July 2018 Her look tonight, however, was anything but grunge. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Christy Turlington Just Walked the Runway For The First Time Since the '90s," 14 Feb. 2019 The show aims to turn romantic comedy tropes on their heads, reminding viewers at every turn that Joe's relationship with Guinevere Beck is anything but healthy. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "Penn Badgley Reminds Fans His "You" Character Joe Goldberg Is the Worst," 9 Jan. 2019 The dozen or so old tweets uncovered and circulated by right-wing pundits were largely directionless — too ill-formed to be anything but juvenile shock humor. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why the Kevin Hart Oscars backlash is different from other recent public shamings," 5 Jan. 2019 Alison Brie and Chrissy Metz have nothing but love for each other after all those bizarre rumors from last night's Golden Globes. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "A Timeline of That Bizarre Rumor About Chrissy Metz and Alison Brie," 7 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

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 Northwestern waited till the last second, literally, to all but clinch its first trip to the NCAA tournament when Dererk Pardon turned Nathan Taphorn’s full-court pass into the game-winning layup at the buzzer against Michigan on March 1. Paul Skrbina, chicagotribune.com, "Northwestern buzzer-beater a finalist for ‘Best Play’ at the ESPYs," 5 July 2017 In California, emissions testing even for off-road bikes has rendered two-strokes all but illegal. Nick Goddard, Popular Mechanics, "KTM's New Fuel-Injected Two-Strokes Could Save the Endangered Engine," 27 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Lee Corso said it without equivocation on Tuesday, without any ifs, ands or buts. Creg Stephenson, AL.com, "Lee Corso: Nick Saban is greatest college football coach of all time," 17 Apr. 2018 No ifs, ands or buts about it, the Pels must win both games. Jeff Duncan, NOLA.com, "Pelicans picked bad time to lay an egg with five games remaining," 2 Apr. 2018 And Mexico, no buts about it, Mexico will paaaay for the wall. Graham Lanktree, Newsweek, "Trump’s Child Crusaders," 13 Dec. 2017 If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books. Drew Harwell, Washington Post, "Florida lawmakers call for suspension of Broward sheriff after Parkland massacre as he defends ‘amazing leadership’," 25 Feb. 2018 Listen, ifs and buts and candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books. Anthony Man, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Don't rush to judge Sheriff Scott Israel Democrats say — day after Republicans call for his removal," 27 Feb. 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.

See More

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, out

Noun

Scots but, adjective (outer)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about but

Statistics for but

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for but

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for but

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on but

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with but

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for but

Spanish Central: Translation of but

Nglish: Translation of but for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of but for Arabic Speakers

Comments on but

What made you want to look up but? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to corrupt or become corrupted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!