1 [buht; unstressed buht]
on the contrary; yet: My brother went, but I did not.
except; save: She was so overcome with grief she could do nothing but weep.
unless; if not; except that (followed by a clause, often with that expressed): Nothing would do but that I should come in.
without the circumstance that: It never rains but it pours.
otherwise than: There is no hope but by prayer.
that (used especially after doubt, deny, etc., with a negative): I don't doubt but he will do it.
who not; that not: No leaders worthy of the name ever existed but they were optimists.
(used as an intensifier to introduce an exclamatory expression): But she's beautiful!
Informal. than: It no sooner started raining but it stopped.
with the exception of; except; save: No one replied but me.
only; just: There is but one God.
buts, reservations or objections: You'll do as you're told, no buts about it.
but for, except for; were it not for: But for the excessive humidity, it might have been a pleasant day.
but what. what ( def 25 ).

before 900; Middle English buten, Old English būtan for phrase be ūtan on the outside, without. See by, out

1. But, however, nevertheless, still, yet are words implying opposition (with a possible concession). But marks an opposition or contrast, though in a casual way: We are going, but we shall return. However indicates a less marked opposition, but displays a second consideration to be compared with the first: We are going; however (“notice this also” ), we shall return. Nevertheless implies a concession, something which should not be forgotten in making a summing up: We are going; nevertheless (“do not forget that” ), we shall return. Still implies that in spite of a preceding concession, something must be considered as possible or even inevitable: We have to go on foot; still (“it is probable and possible that” ), we'll get there. Yet implies that in spite of a preceding concession, there is still a chance for a different outcome: We are going; yet (“in spite of all, some day” ), we shall return. 2. See except1.

1. But, like and, is a common transitional word and often begins sentences. When it is used in the middle of a sentence as a coordinating conjunction like and or so, it is not followed by a comma unless the comma is one of a pair setting off a parenthetical expression: His political affiliations make no difference, but his lack of ethics does. The cast is nearly complete, but, our efforts notwithstanding, we lack a star. See also and, so1.
2, 10. When but is understood as a conjunction and the pronoun following it is understood as the subject of an incompletely expressed clause, the pronoun is in the subjective case: Everyone lost faith in the plan but she (did not lose faith). In virtually identical contexts, when but is understood as a preposition, the pronoun following it is in the objective case: Everyone lost faith but her. The prepositional use is more common. However, when prepositional but and its following pronoun occur near the beginning of a sentence, the subjective case often appears: Everyone but she lost faith in the plan. See also doubt, than.
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2 [buht]
noun Scot.
the outer or front room of a house; the outer or front apartment in an apartment house.
the kitchen of a two-room dwelling, especially of a cottage.

1715–25; noun use of but1 (adv.) outside, outside the house


3 [buht]


a combining form meaning “containing a group of four carbon atoms,” used in the formation of compound words: butene.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
but1 (bʌt, (unstressed) bət)
1.  contrary to expectation: he cut his knee but didn't cry
2.  in contrast; on the contrary: I like opera but my husband doesn't
3.  (usually used after a negative) other than: we can't do anything but wait
4.  (usually used after a negative) without it happening or being the case that: we never go out but it rains
5.  (foll by that) except that: nothing is impossible but that we live forever
6.  archaic if not; unless
sentence connector
7.  informal used to introduce an exclamation: my, but you're nice
8.  except; save: they saved all but one of the pigs
9.  but for were it not for: but for you, we couldn't have managed
10.  just; merely; only: he was but a child; I can but try
11.  informal (Scot), (Austral), (NZ) though; however: it's a rainy day: warm, but
12.  all but almost; practically: he was all but dead when we found him
13.  an objection (esp in the phrase ifs and buts)
[Old English būtan without, outside, except, from beby + ūtanout; related to Old Saxon biūtan, Old High German biūzan]

but2 (bʌt)
1.  the outer room of a two-roomed cottage: usually the kitchen
prep, —adv
2.  Compare ben in or into the outer part (of a house)
[C18: from but (adv) outside, hence, outer room; see but1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. butan, buton "unless, except; without, outside," from W.Gmc. *be- "by" (see by) + *utana "out, outside; from without," from ut "out" (see out). Not used as a conjunction in O.E.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with but, also see all but; all over but the shouting; anything but; can't help but; close but no cigar; everything but the kitchen sink; it never rains but it pours; last but not least; no ifs or buts; nothing but; sadder but wiser; separate but equal; slow but sure; spirit is willing but the flesh is weak; there but for the grace of god.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
There are 11000 or so people in Kentucky who came within a course or two of earning a college degree, but never did.
That decline bottomed out in the mid-1990s but the upward trend is now becoming
  more salient.
I've been to almost every discussion on this, but none have solved my problem.
Burly winter waves surge and retreat, but the roots remain immense.
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