Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


 (kăn′ŏt, kə-nŏt′, kă-)
The negative form of can1.
Usage Note: The idiomatic phrase cannot but has sometimes been criticized as a double negative, perhaps because it has been confused with can but. The but of cannot but, however, means "except," as it does in phrases such as no one but, while the but of can but has the sense only, as it does in the sentence We had but a single bullet left. Both cannot but and can but are established as standard expressions. · The construction cannot help is used with a present participle to roughly the same effect as a verb form ending in -ing in a sentence such as We cannot help admiring his courage. This construction usually implies that a person is unable to affect an outcome normally under his or her control. Thus, saying We could not help laughing at such a remark would imply that one could not suppress one's laughter. · The construction cannot help but probably arose as a blend of cannot help and cannot but; it has the meaning of the first and the syntax of the second: We cannot help but admire his courage. The construction has sometimes been criticized as a redundancy, but it has been around for more than a century and appears in the writing of many distinguished authors. · The expression cannot (or can't) seem to has occasionally been criticized as illogical, and so it is. Brian can't seem to get angry does not mean "Brian is incapable of appearing to get angry," as its syntax would seem to dictate; rather, it means "Brian appears to be unable to get angry." But the idiom serves a useful purpose, since the syntax of English does not allow a logical equivalent like Brian seems to cannot get angry; and the cannot seem to construction is so widely used that it would be pedantic to object to it. See Usage Notes at but, help.


(ˈkænɒt; kæˈnɒt)
an auxiliary verb expressing incapacity, inability, withholding permission, etc; can not


(ˈkæn ɒt, kæˈnɒt, kə-)

a form of can not.
cannot but, to have no alternative but to; cannot help but: We cannot but choose otherwise.
usage: cannot is sometimes spelled can not. The one-word spelling is more common by far. Its contraction, can't, is found chiefly in speech and informal writing. See also can1, help.
ubrániť sazabrániť
References in classic literature ?
But how," said I, "if a Man feigns a Woman's voice with one of his two voices, or so disguises his Southern voice that it cannot be recognized as the echo of the Northern?
A particle of matter cannot tell us that it does not feel the law of attraction or repulsion and that that law is untrue, but man, who is the subject of history, says plainly: I am free and am therefore not subject to the law.
Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation.
The smallness of the house," said she, "I cannot imagine any inconvenience to them, for it will be in proportion to their family and income.
Now the same relation which subsists between primary substance and everything else subsists also between the species and the genus: for the species is to the genus as subject is to predicate, since the genus is predicated of the species, whereas the species cannot be predicated of the genus.
Whether this be true or not, I cannot prevail upon myself to become his accuser--and I think with good reason.
But clearly the process by which he acquired the arsenic is irrelevant: everything that happened before he swallowed it may be ignored, since it cannot alter the effect except in so far as it alters his condition at the moment of taking the dose.
No doubt you will reply that there can be no comparison, that the dead cannot be numbered, while the living who have been rewarded may be summed up with three figures.
A principality is created either by the people or by the nobles, accordingly as one or other of them has the opportunity; for the nobles, seeing they cannot withstand the people, begin to cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and they make him a prince, so that under his shadow they can give vent to their ambitions.
Give me a year to speculate-- To buy and sell--to drive a trade--' Said Paul 'I cannot change the date.
I have wasted the charm of the Golden Cap to no purpose," she said, "for the Winged Monkeys cannot help me.
If I cannot legitimize our former relations at least I can assist you.