The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
But \But\ (b[u^]t), prep., adv. & conj. [OE. bute, buten, AS.
b[=u]tan, without, on the outside, except, besides; pref. be-
+ [=u]tan outward, without, fr. [=u]t out. Primarily,
b[=u]tan, as well as [=u]t, is an adverb. [root]198. See
By, Out; cf. About.]
1. Except with; unless with; without. [Obs.]
So insolent that he could not go but either spurning
equals or trampling on his inferiors. --Fuller.
Touch not the cat but a glove. --Motto of the
2. Except; besides; save.
Who can it be, ye gods! but perjured Lycon? --E.
Note: In this sense, but is often used with other particles;
as, but for, without, had it not been for. "Uncreated
but for love divine." --Young.
3. Excepting or excluding the fact that; save that; were it
not that; unless; -- elliptical, for but that.
And but my noble Moor is true of mind . . . it were
enough to put him to ill thinking. --Shak.
4. Otherwise than that; that not; -- commonly, after a
negative, with that.
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. --Addison.
5. Only; solely; merely.
Observe but how their own principles combat one
If they kill us, we shall but die. --2 Kings vii.
A formidable man but to his friends. --Dryden.
6. On the contrary; on the other hand; only; yet; still;
however; nevertheless; more; further; -- as connective of
sentences or clauses of a sentence, in a sense more or
less exceptive or adversative; as, the House of
Representatives passed the bill, but the Senate dissented;
our wants are many, but quite of another kind.
Now abideth faith hope, charity, these three; but
the greatest of these is charity. --1 Cor. xiii.
When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the
lowly is wisdom. --Prov. xi. 2.
All but. See under All.
But and if, but if; an attempt on the part of King James's
translators of the Bible to express the conjunctive and
adversative force of the Greek ?.
But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord
delayeth his coming; . . . the lord of that servant
will come in a day when he looketh not for him.
But if, unless. [Obs.] --Chaucer.
But this I read, that but if remedy
Thou her afford, full shortly I her dead shall see.
Syn: But, However, Still.
Usage: These conjunctions mark opposition in passing from one
thought or topic to another. But marks the opposition
with a medium degree of strength; as, this is not
winter, but it is almost as cold; he requested my
assistance, but I shall not aid him at present.
However is weaker, and throws the opposition (as it
were) into the background; as, this is not winter; it
is, however, almost as cold; he required my
assistance; at present, however, I shall not afford
him aid. The plan, however, is still under
consideration, and may yet be adopted. Still is
stronger than but, and marks the opposition more
emphatically; as, your arguments are weighty; still
they do not convince me. See Except, However.
Note: "The chief error with but is to use it where and is
enough; an error springing from the tendency to use
strong words without sufficient occasion." --Bain.