Etymology
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but (adv., prep.)

Old English butan, buton "unless; with the exception of; without, outside," from West Germanic *be-utan, a compound of *be- "by" (see by) + *utana "out, outside; from without," from ut "out" (see out (adv.)). Not used as a conjunction until late Old English, "on the contrary." Senses attested in early Middle English include "however, yet; no more than." As an introductory expression, early 13c. As a noun, "an objection, an exception" from late 14c.

Som man preiseth his neighebore by a wikked entente, foralwey he maketh a 'but' at the laste ende, that is digne of moore blame than worth is al the preisynge. [Chaucer, "Parson's Tale"]
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*ambhi- 
also *mbhi-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "around;" probably derived from *ant-bhi "from both sides," from root *ant- "front, forehead."

It forms all or part of: abaft; about; alley (n.1) "open passage between buildings;" ambagious; ambassador; ambi-; ambidexterity; ambidextrous; ambience; ambient; ambiguous; ambit; ambition; ambitious; amble; ambulance; ambulant; ambulate; ambulation; ambulatory; amphi-; amphibian; Amphictyonic; amphisbaena; Amphiscians; amphitheater; amphora; amputate; amputation; ancillary; andante; anfractuous; be-; begin; beleaguer; between; bivouac; but; by; circumambulate; embassy; ember-days; funambulist; ombudsman; perambulate; perambulation; preamble; somnambulate; somnambulism; umlaut.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit abhitah "on both sides," abhi "toward, to;" Avestan aibi; Greek amphi "round about;" Latin ambi- "around, round about;" Gaulish ambi-, Old Irish imb- "round about, about;" Old Church Slavonic oba; Lithuanian abu "both;" Old English ymbe, German um "around."
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butt (n.3)
"target of a joke, object of ridicule," 1610s, from earlier sense "target for shooting practice, turf-covered mound against which an archery target was set," (mid-14c.), from Old French but "aim, goal, end, target" of an arrow, etc. (13c.), which seems to be a fusion of Old French words for "end" (bot) and "aim, goal" (but), both ultimately from Germanic. The latter is from Frankish *but "stump, stock, block," or some other Germanic source (compare Old Norse butr "log of wood"), which would connect it with butt (n.1).
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butt (n.2)
"liquor barrel, cask for wine or ale," late 14c., from Anglo-French but and Old French bot "barrel, wine-skin" (14c., Modern French botte), from Late Latin buttis "cask" (see bottle (n.)). Cognate with Spanish and Portuguese bota, Italian botte. Usually a cask holding 108 to 140 gallons, or roughly two hogsheads; at one time a butt was a legal measure, but it varied greatly and the subject is a complicated one (see notes in Century Dictionary).
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butternut (n.)
also butter-nut, 1753, nut of the white walnut, a North American tree; transferred to the tree itself from 1783, from butter (n.) + nut (n.). So called from the oil it contains.

The dye made from the tree's inner bark was yellowish-brown, and the word was used (from 1861) to describe the Southern army troops in the American Civil War, but the exact reason is debatable. Many Southern uniforms seem to have been this color; perhaps butternut dye was extensively used in homemade uniforms (but the tree's natural range is mostly in the northeastern U.S.); perhaps some of the regulation gray uniforms faded or soiled to this color; perhaps it was because butternut was a nickname for Southerners in the Midwestern states.
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butte (n.)
"conspicuous elevation," especially a steep-sided one notable in its isolation, 1805, American English, from French butte, from Old French but "mound, knoll; target to shoot at" (see butt (n.3)). A relic of the French exploration of the upper Missouri region, introduced in English in Lewis & Clark's journals.
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butt (n.4)
"flat fish," c. 1300, a general Germanic name applied to various kinds of flat fishes (Old Swedish but "flatfish," German Butte, Dutch bot), from Proto-Germanic *butt-, name for a flat fish, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike." "Hence butt-woman, who sells these, a fish-wife." [OED]
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butter (n.)
Old English butere "butter, the fatty part of milk," obtained from cream by churning, general West Germanic (compare Old Frisian, Old High German butera, German Butter, Dutch boter), an early loan-word from Latin butyrum "butter" (source of Italian burro, Old French burre, French beurre), from Greek boutyron. This is apparently "cow-cheese," from bous "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow") + tyros "cheese" (from PIE root *teue- "to swell"); but this might be a folk etymology of a Scythian word.

The product was used from an early date in India, Iran and northern Europe, but not in ancient Greece and Rome. Herodotus described it (along with cannabis) among the oddities of the Scythians. In old chemistry, applied to certain substances of buttery consistency. Butter-knife attested from 1818.
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butterfly (n.)

common name of any lepidopterous insect active in daylight, Old English buttorfleoge, evidently butter (n.) + fly (n.), but the name is of obscure signification. Perhaps based on the old notion that the insects (or, according to Grimm, witches disguised as butterflies) consume butter or milk that is left uncovered. Or, less creatively, simply because the pale yellow color of many species' wings suggests the color of butter. Another theory connects it to the color of the insect's excrement, based on Dutch cognate boterschijte. Also see papillon.

Applied to persons from c. 1600, originally in reference to vain and gaudy attire; by 1806 in reference to transformation from early lowly state; in reference to flitting tendencies by 1873. The swimming stroke so called from 1935. As a type of mechanical nut, 1869. Butterflies "light stomach spasms caused by anxiety" is from 1908. Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel? is from Pope.

The butterfly effect is a deceptively simple insight extracted from a complex modern field. As a low-profile assistant professor in MIT's department of meteorology in 1961, [Edward] Lorenz created an early computer program to simulate weather. One day he changed one of a dozen numbers representing atmospheric conditions, from .506127 to .506. That tiny alteration utterly transformed his long-term forecast, a point Lorenz amplified in his 1972 paper, "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?" [Peter Dizikes, "The Meaning of the Butterfly," The Boston Globe, June 8, 2008]

A truth known for ages to poets and philosophers (atomists) which modern science ponders as a possible fact.

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butane (n.)
paraffin hydrocarbon, 1875, from butyl, hydrocarbon from butyric acid, a product of fermentation found in rancid butter, from Latin butyrum (see butter (n.)) + chemical suffix -ane.
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