To take but one issue

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Senior Member
Hi all,

What does the bold phrase mean? Is it an idiom?

To take but one issue, I believe in privatization ( selling off, say, government monopolies to private companies), but only if it helps companies become more efficient and lowers prices for consumers.

Globalization and its discontents
Joseph Stiglitz

Thanks in advance,
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Not really an idiom, but the construction "[infinitive] but one [noun]" is moderately common if you want to try to sound impressive (or pompous, or old-fashioned, perhaps). "But" means "only" in this context, but it does not really add any meaning to the sentence. In ordinary English, you would use "just" instead of "but", or use no adverb at all.

    The meaning of the entire phrase is "To consider just one issue:"
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