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What does "all but" mean?

"He is all but a dawdler" means "he is almost a dawdler" or "he is all except a dawdler"?
And "failure, for them, became all but unthinkable" means "failure became almost unthinkable" or "failure became thinkable"

If “all but” means almost; then pleas look at this one:

Despite an agreement between labor and management to keep the print and electronic media _____ developments, the details of the negotiations were _____ all but a few journalists from the major metropolitan newspapers.
A. abreast of.. disclosed to
B. involved in.. leaded to
C. apprised of.. withheld from
D. speculating about.. denied to
E. ignorant of .. suppressed by
The answer is C. Despite an agreement between labor and management to keep the print and electronic media apprised of developments, the details of the negotiations were withheld from all but a few journalists from the major metropolitan newspapers.

Does it sound illogic? Because the sentence is saying: The details of negotiations were withheld from almost a few journalists (i.e. disclosed to many other journalists). Then why do we need the premise “despite the agreement to keep media apprised of developments”?

To me, it should be:
The details of the negotiations were just disclosed to almost a few journalists (i.e. withheld from many other journalists), despite the agreement to keep the media apprised of developments,
though, there's no answer.

Am I right?

Thank you in advance! Emotion: smile

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Comments  
"all but" means "all except" when followed by a noun, not "almost".

They gave money to all but me. They did not give money to me, but they gave money to everyone else. They gave money to everybody except me.

All but a few students understood the sentence. A few students did not understand the sentence, but all the rest of them did understand it. All the students except a small number of them understood the sentence.

The cat was so hungry, she ate all but the plate! The cat ate everything in sight, but not (of course!) the plate; she ate everything except the plate.

CJ
Ohh, Thank you CJ. Now I understand this question:

"Despite an agreement between labor and management to keep the print and electronic media _____ developments, the details of the negotiations were _____ all but a few journalists from the major metropolitan newspapers.
C. apprised of.. withheld from"
The details of negotiations were withheld from all the journalists except a small number of them.

But what about this one:

"Salazar's presence in the group was so ___ the others that they lost most of their earlier ____; failure, for them, became all but unthinkable.
A. reassuring to .. trepidation
B. unnoticed by.. curiosity
C. unusual to.. harmony
D. endearing to.. confidence
E. unexpected by.. exhilaration"

"Failure became all but unthinkable" means what??
Emotion: smile

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Dear Jeff_999,

«All but unthinkable» is «almost impossible to imagine».

Now I think you will know the answer, no? Emotion: smile

Kind regards, Emotion: smile

Goldmund
"unthinkable" is an adjective, so "all but unthinkable" means "everything except unthinkable" only in the most metaphoric way. Rather, it means "just about unthinkable".

"Failure was all but unthinkable" is "Failure was [almost / just about] unthinkable".

They could bring themselves to [think / believe] ([almost / just about]) anything except that they would fail.

CJ
all but : except for
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Thank you all.

So whether it's followed by a noun or an adjective 'makes the difference'.

Could I rather take it as "more than unthinkable"? hehe Just a silly thought Emotion: smile
Here is one just today: Charlie Sheen in his first road show in Detroit was booed by fans & a writer has this to say :
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Charlie Sheen Is All but Booed Off Stage at First Live Show

ABC News

Did this writer Sheen was all except being booed?
AnonymousDid this writer mean that Sheen was all except being booed?
"all except being booed" is not the idiomatic way to say it, but that's the general meaning. In other words, Sheen was "just about" booed off the stage. People booed, but not quite so much that Sheen was forced to leave the stage.

CJ
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