With 31 out of 32 regions declared, 55.42 per cent had voted against going it alone compared to 44.58 per cent who wanted Scotland to break the 307-year-old union with England.
The result announced early on Friday UK time was the one favoured by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay.
Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister and head of the independence campaign, conceded defeat in an emotional speech to supporters in Edinburgh.
"I accept verdict of the people and call on all of Scotland to follow suit," he said moments after Better Together won the referendum.
He thanked the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence. "We have touched sections of the community who have never been touched before by politics. These communities have touched us... I don't think that will ever be allowed to go back to business as usual in politics again.