American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

Dictionary Search


BUT, part. for butan.

1. Except; besides; unless.

Who can it be, but perjured Lycon?

That is, removed, separated, excepted.

Lycon being separated, or excepted, who can it be?

And but infirmity,

Which waits upon worn times, hath something seized

His wish'd ability, he had himself

The lands and waters measured.

That is, except, unless, separate this fact, that infirmity had seized his ability, he had measured the lands and waters.

In this use but butan, is a participle equivalent to excepting, and may be referred to the person speaking, or more naturally, it is equivalent to excepted, and with the following words, or clause, forming the case absolute.

Who can it be, Lycon being excepted?

And but my noble Moor is true of mind, it were enough to put him to ill thinking.

It cannot be but nature hath some director, of infinite power, to guide her in all her ways.

There is no question but the King of Spain will reform most of the abuses.

It is not impossible but I may alter the complexion of my play.

In the last three examples, that is omitted after but

It is not impossible but that I may alter the complexion of my play.

In these and all similar phrases, but denotes separation, exception.

2. Only.

A formidable man, but to his friends.

There is but one man present.use of but is a modern innovation; but perhaps too firmly established to be corrected. In all such phrases, a negative, not, nothing, or other word, is omitted. He is not a formidable man, but to his enemies, that is, except. There is not but one man present, that is, there is not except or besides one present. So also, 'Our light affliction is but for a moment.' 2 Corinthians 4:2. Our affliction is not, except for a moment.

If they kill us, we shall but die. 2 Kings 7:2.

The common people in America retain the original and correct phrase, usually employing a negative. They do not say, I have but one. On the other hand, they say, I have not but one, that is, I have not except one; except one, and I have none. This word but for butan is not a conjunction, nor has it the least affinity to that part of speech.

BUT, conjunction [Eng.over.]

More; further; noting an addition to supply what is wanting to elucidate, or modify the sense of the preceding part of a sentence, or of a discourse, or to continue the discourse, or to exhibit a contrast.

Now abide faith, hope, charity, these three;

BUT, the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:6.

When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the

lowly is wisdom. Proverbs 11:1.

Our wants are many and grievous; but quite of another


The house of representatives were well agreed in passing the bill; but the senate dissented.

This word is in fact a noun equivalent to addition or supply; but in grammatical construction, no inconvenience results from considering it to be a connective.

BUT, noun [Latin peto.]

1. An end; a limit; a bound. It is used particularly for the larger end of a thing, as of a piece of timber, or of a fallen tree; that which grows nearest the earth. It is not often applied to the bound or limit of land; yet butted, for bounded, is often used.

2. The end of a plank in a ship's side or bottom, which unites with another; generally written butt.

BUT, verb intransitive To be bounded by; to lie contiguous to; a word used in America. [See Abut.]