Why Shakespeare did not oft put his but in my face – and why you shouldn’t either.


Oh, what disgrace!
Please remove your but from my face!
Though I don’t know if there’s a better place
for your but to be…

or not to be, you see.

Oh, behold you!
Please keep your but from blocking my view!
Though I’m not sure with it what you should do,

But…I’ve had enough of its poo.


Let’s just call it what it is — “But Smut.”



They belong in the classics.

But let me just say, if I was Julie Andrews (yeah, it’s a far stretch for me too)…neither of these would sit high enough on my list of  “a few of my favorite things” to have become soprano-ized. (Unless we’re talking about Tony in Jersey here.)

“I would have done that but…”

“I could have helped you out but…”

“You would look great today except…”  (that’s a sneaky but word)

Go ahead and liberally use that word, but…you’ll just look back one day and realize you’ve lived your life carrying a buttload bucketfuls of regrets and what ifs.

Buts come in different shapes, sizes, and forms. In one day at work alone, I was accosted with at least 3 different instances of “I feel bad about myself, but I’m going to transfer it over to someone else instead. You were looking too happy about life.”

  1. As I’m exiting a meeting, here’s a remark that’s made to me in the hallway: “Oh, I like that color of green on you..” (this would’ve been a good place to stop) “…[BUT] I personally can’t wear that shade. I end up looking that same color of green, and then people begin wondering if I should be transported to the hospital. It must look good on you because you have that same tint to your skin.”  Yep. Green skin. I’m using it right now because E.T. doesn’t need it anymore. He’s not at work with the mean girl. He’s gone home.
  2. As I enter my office building, I come around the corner and am confronted by another coworker: “Are those new shoes? I need a pair of those, BUT did you really need to get some with such high heels? Weren’t you already tall enough?” For the record, I went and measured them. 2-1/2″ at the highest point. I guess I could’ve responded with “See you at the pole,” BUT no self-respecting stripper would’ve been caught ‘clothes-less on the coroner’s table’ in those things!
  3. Later in the day, walking out of the lunchroom, another coworker looks down at my open-toed stripper shoes and comments: “Those are the brightest pink toes I’ve ever seen! BUT they’re okay, I guess…I like that shade better than the blue or orange you had on before that.” Why, I thought until that time I was the pink of the mode. I had a very Shakespearean moment, to say the least. Like Mercutio, I had to remind myself that I needed to be nay, the very pinke of curtesie. I bit my pink tongue — before it became a sword.

Why do we feel the need, I wonder, to litter our compliments with back-handed buts?

Can you imagine how Romeo & Juliet might have turned out, had Shakespeare decided his phrases rest atop a bunch of big, ugly buts? Okay, maybe they’d both still be alive, but…comon’, how would we have felt about it?!

Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.

Well, except for the cute little barmaid, and the farrier’s daughter, and…

Wouldn’t have quite worked, would it?

Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, 
That I shall say good night
but will I see you again tomorrow?


My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep;
but the more I give to thee,
The more thou takest, for both are infinitely exhausting.

Take Two Please!

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

Ah, much better!

By grammatical definition, but is a conjunction. By formal definition, a conjunction is supposed to ‘join’ (not separate). 

So why is it that we like to use our buts to join in nothing more than malice?

That was good, I guess, but…you can do better.

I would like to spend some time with you, but…I’ve got better things to do.

I love you, but…I’m too busy fulfilling my own needs to think about yours.

How about we get our hands out from under our buts and get to working them out in a positive way?

I’ve been feeling really grumpy lately, but…I know if I take the focus off me and put it someplace else I’ll be happier.

I haven’t been feeling the same about you lately, but…I know we made a commitment to this relationship, so along with you, I intend to see it through.

So your bat swing isn’t the greatest in the world, but…we can work on that. Let’s go down to the field.

That outfit is gorgeous, but…did I mention it wouldn’t look nearly as good without you in it?

I hope I didn’t mislead you. Buts are not the actual problem, in and of themselves, but…I do think we should take a cue from Shakespeare and use them sparingly, making them fully count in contributing to a worthwhile message:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” 
― William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet


But notice how Shakespeare didn’t moon us here?


15 thoughts on “Why Shakespeare did not oft put his but in my face – and why you shouldn’t either.

  1. I dont know that I have anything to say other than I laughed out loud through the majority of this post. I love me some Bill Shakespear but man…

  2. When I use the “but,” it’s usually towards myself. I can give compliments (real ones, not backhanded), but I have trouble accepting them. Oh, and that pic is really freaky!

    • I hear you, Bee. Sometimes it seems it’s considered impolite if we simply take a compliment without any measure of self-degradation, BUT I think we should practice it! I happen to think you’re terrific, BUT did I mention how fabulous your writing is to me?!

  3. I just want to see the shoes 😉

    I use that word a lot, to qualify my low self esteem , I think it’s time to stop.


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