But vs butt

But and butt are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way when spoken aloud but are spelled differently and mean different things, which makes them homophones. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language, and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the words to, too and two, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other. Pronunciation is usually more ambiguous, as English pronunciation may vary according to dialect, and English spelling is constantly evolving. Pronunciation may change even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. Homophones are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced alike but have very different usage and etymology. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. We will examine the definitions of the two homophonic words but and butt, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

But is a conjunction that introduces a phrase that contradicts or contrasts with the preceding phrase. But may mean except for, if not, or on the contrary. But may be used as a preposition, noun or an adverb; however, most often the word but is used as a conjunction. But is a coordinating conjunction, which is a word that links two words, phrases, clauses or sentences. The word but is derived from the Old English words butan and buton, which mean unless.

Butt may be used as a noun or a verb. As a noun, butt may mean the act of striking something or someone with one’s head, as a goat may lower his head and strike something with his horns. Butt also means the thicker end of something or the large, hindmost portion, such as the butt of a gun. Butt may mean the buttocks of an animal or human. As a verb, butt is used to mean to strike someone with one’s head or to position two things to rest against each other. Related words are butts, butted, butting. The word butt is derived from the Old French word bot, meaning end.


Many of those retail restaurants went away, but now they’re back again, and there are still women — and men, this time, too — eating salads.  (The Washington Post)

But he’s a doctor and she’s a financial analyst, so they would be a tad over-qualified to be shilling sausages at Charcuterie Hongroise, a mainstay on the Main for the last 65 years. (The Montreal Gazette)

When a patient comes into our office complaining of pain that is located in the area of the hip and butt, getting the correct diagnosis can be difficult.  (The Arizona Daily Star)

“I can be pretty damn stubborn, so can she, which is probably where we tend to butt heads occasionally. ” (USA Today)