There are 2 main definitions of but in English:

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but 1

Pronunciation: /bʌt/


1Used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned: he stumbled but didn’t fall this is one principle, but it is not the only one the food is cheap but delicious the problem is not that they are cutting down trees, but that they are doing it in a predatory way
More example sentences
  • I would have liked to have had a longer deal but the get out clauses were prohibitive.
  • We can destroy with a cutting quip or a damning phrase but nobody expects us to create.
  • We continued to talk all though the lesson, but there was no mention of the dance.
nevertheless, nonetheless, even so, however, still, notwithstanding, despite that, in spite of that, for all that, all the same, just the same, at the same time, be that as it may;
though, although
informal still and all
2 [with negative or in questions] Used to indicate the impossibility of anything other than what is being stated: one cannot but sympathize there was nothing they could do but swallow their pride they had no alternative but to follow
More example sentences
  • Cause and effect are related in such a way that, if the first occurs, the second cannot but occur.
  • This is another one of those Korean films that you cannot but have mixed feelings about.
  • She knew he did not want to go, but she could still not help but feel anger at him.
3Used to introduce a response expressing a feeling such as surprise or anger: but that’s an incredible saving! but why?
More example sentences
  • We did not know what to expect, but what a fantastic surprise night, it was a real thrill.
  • It is also very funny, but don't be surprised if you have to cross a protest line to see it.
  • I was slow to acknowledge their response as I broke my leg, but thank you, one and all.
4Used after an expression of apology for what one is about to say: I’m sorry, but I can’t pay you
More example sentences
  • I'm sorry, but she laughs in her sleep and can never remember the joke in the morning.
  • I apologise but it's being moved to a new server and should be up again by Saturday.
  • Sorry to be repetitive but this guy was in the tube in Russell Square when the bomb went off!
5 [with negative] archaic Without it being the case that: it never rains but it pours
More example sentences
  • It never rains but it pours.
  • Her Own Tribesmen Never but Say Her Age Is 300 Years.
  • I did read the names that one time, and never but that one time.


1Except; apart from; other than: we were never anything but poor supply currently exceeds demand in all but the most rural areas the last but one
More example sentences
  • On some London high streets it is becoming difficult to go food shopping anywhere but Tesco.
  • She was too shaken and frightened to do anything else but feel safe in the arms of Peter Grayson.
  • She was shocked, too shock to do anything else but stare as he pulled her forward.
1.1Used with repetition of certain words to give emphasis: nobody, but nobody, was going to stop her
More example sentences
  • Why nobody, but nobody will ever take mass transit as long as they have a choice.
  • Nobody, but nobody, should eat a two pound burrito.
  • Nobody, but Nobody, knows Mauritius like we do!


1No more than; only: he is but a shadow of his former self choose from a colourful array of mango, starfruit, and raspberries, to name but a few
More example sentences
  • In an important article in April 22 Haaretz Gideon Levy points out but a few cases within the year illustrating that movement equals death.
  • I admire many artists like Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, and Edward Hopper to name but a few.
  • Fast food, the gas station (as we knew it until the 1980's), the neon sign, and the motel to name but a few, are the affectations of the early highways.
only, just, simply, merely, no more than, nothing but;
a mere
Northern English informal nobbut
2Australian /NZ & Scottish informal (Used at the end of a sentence) though; however: he was a nice bloke but


An argument against something; an objection: no buts—just get out of here as with all these proposals, ifs and buts abound
More example sentences
  • We are not going to talk about ifs and buts, like I say, just wait for the procedure to take its place and then at the end of that, if no one has made the decision for us, we'll have to make the decision.
  • In the past 30 years, the food industry in Ireland, as represented by both the public and the private sectors, has created more ifs and buts than any other.
  • Sydney - no ifs, no buts - is the commercial capital of Australia.


For advice about using but and other conjunctions to begin a sentence, see and (usage).



but for

Except for: I walked along Broadway, deserted but for the occasional cab
More example sentences
  • It’s All Good (but for the playing of the games).
  • In the end, there's not much here but for the pulp entertainment value.
  • High pastures rise, bare but for a wedge of trees, and redshanks swooped in quickly to the rushes by our feet.
1.1If it were not for: the game could be over but for you
More example sentences
  • He could have added to his test figures but for an apparent indiscretion with alcohol.
  • Our ancestors said we would not know the summer from the winter but for the leaves on their trees.
  • Clapton would have snatched a draw but for another late goal from never-say-die Dorking.
if it were not for, were it not for, except for, without, barring, notwithstanding

but that

archaic Other than that; except that: she would have screamed, but that her cry would have called her masters
More example sentences
  • There is no doubt but that Ireland has seen a surge in prices over the past five years.
  • There can be little doubt but that the methods of projective differential geometry will serve to throw a flood of light upon the theory of conjugate triple systems.
  • He had no doubt but that this banking system was burdensome to the citizens of the United States.

but then

After all; on the other hand (introducing a contrasting comment): it couldn’t help, but then again, it probably couldn’t hurt it’s a very hard match, but then they all are
More example sentences
  • But then, they would be, wouldn't they?
  • Most of the people I have spoken to since agree but then they don't live in homes with gardens big enough to warrant weekly collections of garden waste!
  • "But then they're bred for it, aren't they?" she adds as an afterthought.


Old English be-ūtan, būtan, būta 'outside, without, except' (see by, out).

Words that rhyme with but

abut, butt, cut, glut, gut, hut, intercut, jut, Mut, mutt, phut, putt, rut, scut, shortcut, shut, slut, smut, strut, tut, undercut
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There are 2 main definitions of but in English:

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but 2

Pronunciation: /bʌt/


An outer room, especially in a two-roomed cottage.
Example sentences
  • The 'but' was the outer room or kitchen and the 'ben' was the inner room or best room.


but and ben

Scottish A two-roomed cottage; a humble home.
Example sentences
  • This is a Scottish holiday very much as it would have been 50 years ago, when the Broons left their tenement in Glebe Street for a two-room but and ben in an anonymous glen.
  • The denizens of Barclay House - that's our wee but and ben in Edinburgh - were given a pantomime for light relief yesterday morning when a parking attendant dared to stick a ticket on the Scotland bus.
  • To others it is a one-bedroom but and ben with a corrugated iron roof.


Early 18th century: from but1 in the early sense 'outside', specifically 'into the outer part of a house'.

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