- For the South Asian surname, see Bhat (Kashmir).
The surname Butt or Butts is mistakenly said to be derived from the French word "but" which is a verb meaning "aim" or "target". The English name is derived from the Middle English word "but", a noun meaning a mark for archery, a target or goal. The name may derive from butt, a strip of ploughland shorter than the average length of one furlong.
Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Butt, But, Butte and others.
The surname can also be found in England where it is again of patronymic origin, meaning "son of Butt". First found in Middlesex where they were anciently seated, and were granted lands by William the Conqueror, and recorded in the Domesday Book compiled in 1086. An early reference to this surname in 1200 England, William de Butte is listed in Oseney. From the archery-related meaning, the surname Butt in England was originally used to describe somebody who either lived near archery butts, or someone who was actually an archer. The name has been particularly popular in Devon and Cornwall since the 17th Century, with a number of variants from the same origin including Butts, and two names meaning "Son of Butt": Butson and Butting.
Migration to Canada
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For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Butt or a variant listed above were, Roger Butt who settled in Carbonear, Newfoundland, in 1675, John Butt who settled in Conception Bay, Newfoundland, in 1706 and Joseph Butt settled in Crockers Bay, Newfoundland, in the same year.
Notable people with the surname Butt
- Alfred Butt, British theatre entrepreneur, Conservative politician and racehorse owner
- Major Archibald Butt, military aide to U.S. presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft
- Anthony Butt, New Zealand jockey
- Brent Butt, Canadian stand-up comedian, actor and writer
- Charles Butt, American grocer, son of Howard Butt
- Clara Butt, English contralto
- Dudley Butt, Manx politician
- Gavin Butt, British art historian
- Gizz Butt, British musician
- Hans-Jörg Butt, German goalkeeper
- Harry Butt, English cricketer
- Howard Butt, American founder of H-E-B grocery chain
- Hugh Butt, American physician
- Hussain Butt, Pakistani cricketer
- Isaac Butt, an Irish leader of the Home Rule League
- John Butt (sport shooter), English sports shooter
- Len Butt (footballer born 1893), English footballer with Southampton and Bournemouth
- Len Butt (footballer born 1910), English footballer with Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers
- Maggie Butt, British poet
- Miriam Butt, German linguist
- Nicky Butt, an English footballer
- Pâmela Butt, Brazilian porn star
- Peter Butt, Australian filmmaker
- Rabia Butt, Pakistani fashionmodel
- Ray Butt, British film and television producer
- Simon Butt, British diplomat
- Sonya Butt, a female Special Operations Executive agent during World War II
- Tameka Butt, Australian association footballer
- Tom Butt, American politician in California
- William Butt, American politician in Georgia
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