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Whilst vs But - What's the difference?

whilst | but |

As a conjunction whilst

is (british|rare or literary in north america) while, at the same time.

As a noun but is

any piece of equipment used for writing with one's hand, except chalks.



Alternative forms

* whilest (obsolete) * whylst (obsolete) * whylest (obsolete)


(English Conjunctions)
  • (British, rare or literary in North America) While, at the same time.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham), title=(The China Governess)
  • , chapter=17 citation , passage=The face which emerged was not reassuring. It was blunt and grey, the nose springing thick and flat from high on the frontal bone of the forehead, whilst his eyes were narrow slits of dark in a tight bandage of tissue. […].}}

    Usage notes

    * Mostly restrained to use in . * Rare in North America and may be considered archaic, pedantic or pompous.


    * (while) * *




    (English prepositions)
  • (obsolete, outside, Scotland) Outside of.
  • Away but the hoose and tell me whae's there.
  • Without, apart from, except.
  • Everyone but Father left early.
    ''I like everything but that.


  • Merely, only.
  • * 1791 , (Robert Burns), "(Ae Fond Kiss)":
  • For to see her was to love her,
    Love but her, and love for ever.
  • * 1900 , , (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) :
  • Now the Wicked Witch of the West had but one eye, yet that was as powerful as a telescope, and could see everywhere.
  • * 1977 , (Alistair Horne), A Savage War of Peace , New York Review Books, 2006, p.49:
  • The stony outcrops are often covered but thinly with arable soil; winters are bitingly cold, and rainfall scanty and unpredictable.
  • (Australian, conjunctive) Though, however.
  • I'll have to go home early but .


    (wikipedia but) (English Conjunctions)
  • Except (for), excluding. Preceded by a negation.
  • :
  • *{{quote-news, year=2011, date=October 23, author=Becky Ashton, work=BBC Sport
  • , title= QPR 1-0 Chelsea , passage=Luiz struggled with the movement of Helguson in the box, as he collected a long ball and the Spaniard barged him over, leaving referee Chris Foy little option but to point to the spot.}}
  • On the contrary, but rather (introducing a word or clause that contrasts with or contradicts the preceding clause or sentence without the not ).
  • :
  • However, although, nevertheless (implies that the following clause is contrary to prior belief or contrasts with or contradicts the preceding clause or sentence).
  • :
  • :
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-19, author= Ian Sample
  • , volume=189, issue=6, page=34, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title= Irregular bedtimes may affect children's brains , passage=Irregular bedtimes may disrupt healthy brain development in young children, according to a study of intelligence and sleeping habits.  ¶ Going to bed at a different time each night affected girls more than boys, but both fared worse on mental tasks than children who had a set bedtime, researchers found.}}
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-29, volume=407, issue=8842, page=55, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Travels and travails , passage=Even without hovering drones, a lurking assassin, a thumping score and a denouement, the real-life story of Edward Snowden, a rogue spy on the run, could be straight out of the cinema. But , as with Hollywood, the subplots and exotic locations may distract from the real message: America’s discomfort and its foes’ glee.}}
  • Except that (introducing a subordinate clause which qualifies a negative statement); also, with omission of the subject of the subordinate clause, acting as a negative relative, "except one that", "except such that".
  • *, II.15:
  • *:There is no reason but hath another contrary unto it, saith the wisest party of Philosophers.
  • *Shakespeare
  • *:And but my noble Moor is true of mindit were enough to put him to ill thinking.
  • *1820 , (John Keats), ‘Lamia’, Lamia & Other Poems :
  • *:A deadly silence step by step increased, / Until it seem'd a horrid presence there, / And not a man but felt the terror in his hair.
  • :
  • Without it also being the case that; unless that (introducing a necessary concomitant).
  • :
  • (obsolete) Except with; unless with; without.
  • *Fuller
  • *:So insolent that he could not go but either spurning equals or trampling on his inferiors.
  • *Motto of the Mackintoshes
  • *:Touch not the cat but a glove.
  • (obsolete) Only; solely; merely.
  • *Milton
  • *:Observe but how their own principles combat one another.
  • *Bible, 2 Kings vii. 4
  • *:If they kill us, we shall but die.
  • *Dryden
  • *:a formidable man but to his friends
  • Usage notes

    * Beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction such as but' is considered incorrect by classical grammarians arguing that a coordinating conjunction at the start of a sentence has nothing to connect, but use of the word in this way is very common. It is, however, best to avoid beginning a sentence with '''but''' in formal writing. Combining sentences or using '''however''', '''nevertheless''', '''still''', or ' though is appropriate for the formal style. ** But this tool has its uses. ** This tool has its uses, however. ** Nevertheless, this tool has its uses. ** Still, this tool has its uses. ** This tool still has its uses. ** This tool has its uses, though. * The use of the word but preceded by a comma is also considered incorrect by classical grammarians. ** I was very tired, but I decided to continue. ** It was a lovely day, but rain looked likely.


    * (except) bar, unless, excepting, excluding, with the exception of, without * (however) yet, although, ac


    (en noun)
  • An instance or example of using the word "but".
  • It has to be done – no ifs or buts .
  • (Scotland) The outer room of a small two-room cottage.
  • A limit; a boundary.
  • The end; especially the larger or thicker end, or the blunt, in distinction from the sharp, end; the butt.
  • Derived terms

    * all but * but and ben * but good *