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Nothing But The Best Meaning: I Wish Nothing But The Best Meaning Of ‘Nothing But’ In English

What is the difference between these phrases? When is it valid to use which? Should they be avoided as being ambiguous?

 

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Nothing But The Best Meaning

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Nothing but A

Means only A. You don”t want anything else.

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Anything but A

Means that you don”t want A. You could have B or C, or maybe even both B and C (and even E if someone offers) – but NOT A!

Everything but A

Means that A is the only thing you don”t want. You do want the rest of the entire alphabet – but NOT A!

 

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“Nothing but” means only:

Nothing but the best.Only the best.

“Anything but” means any one thing except whatever follows but:

Don”t make me go to school. Anything but that.Don”t make me go to school. You can make me do anything else, but don”t make me go to school.

“Everything but” means everything excepting whatever follows but:

He remembered to bring everything but his toothbrush.He brought everything with him except his toothbrush, which he left behind.

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But here means except.

I want nothing but chocolate

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means I do not want to have any food except chocolate.

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Give me anything but chocolate

means I can eat all kinds of food except chocolate.

I will eat everything but the chocolate

meansI am going to have all the food in front of me except the chocolate.

“I wanted everything but that” means “I really didn”t want that at all”. So, unlike “all but” which means “almost”, “everything but” means “very far from”.

Nice to see I”m not the only one pondering this. The above answers do sum up the most frequent usages, but I would like to propose an addendum concerning the ambiguity of the phrases, which, for me, was the core of the question:

“Anything but” may sometimes also be used in a way that is closer in meaning to “nothing but”, mainly when posed as a rhetorical question, as in:

“How can B mean anything but A?” — implying that B means A, and only A.

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This does not call for avoidance of the phrase, however, as the intended meaning can, more or less, be easily understood from the context of its use. Give readers/listeners some linguistic credit.

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FAQs about Nothing But The Best Meaning

1. How do you use the phrase nothing but?

More commonly, “nothing but” is construed as a logical opposite of “only”, and in this usage it means that something has been removed from some other thing (the latter can then take the usual “only” meaning, e.g., “everything but a box of chocolates”). Thus, it can mean “except for” or “not including”, but this is not the sense that I am most concerned with.

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2. What does nothing but true mean?

Another commonly used use of “nothing but” is as a generic expletive, meaning something like “only” or “just”. This usage is not nearly as well established as the other two, and therefore is not so well understood.

3. What does nothing but love mean?

If we use “nothing but” as a generic expletive, I would suggest that it would be better expressed in the form of an adverb. This would be “only” love, or perhaps “only true love”. I do not know how to say it as an adverb, but I can tell you how it would sound.

4. Is nothing but an idiom?

An idiom is a phrase or expression that has acquired a figurative meaning. Some idiom’s have become conventional and are no longer accepted as literal; for example, the idiom “to work at it” is no longer understood literally by most people.

I believe that the no’s had a different meaning. I think “nothing but” is used to show that someone is trying to find another way or using another argument or path. My explanation is quite different from what others have written, but I think that it fits with the context. Hope you enjoy our blog post!

Not the answer you’re looking for? Browse other questions tagged meaning word-choice grammaticality differences ambiguity or ask your own question.

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