When was it first used? Is this the original idiom, or was there an older version? Furthermore, just how should its interpretation be interpreted?


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The aphorism was coined by the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Don Meredith, that later became a sports commentator for the TV show Monday Night Football in 1970.

17 December 1970, Ada (OK) Evening News, pg. 7, col. 1:

Howard Cosell: “If Los Angeles wins, it’s a huge one, yet San Francisco is still very a lot in it.” Don Meredith: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have actually a merry Christmas.

You are watching: If ifs and buts were candies and nuts

” Howard: “I didn’t think you’d remember that old canard.” Don: “Is that what it was?”

Source: Barry Popik.com

The 1970 quip soon ended up being Meredith"s catchphrase, but it was a contemporary and also comical twist on a much older proverb dating from the 1nine century

If ifs and also ands were pots and also pans, there’d be no work-related for tinkers’ hands” Oxford Reference

This proverb is offered as a humorous retort to someone expushing a forlorn regret (e.g. if just I had the money...) or an unrealistic and possibly over optimistic problem (... and if I had actually the appropriate relationships, I can be famed.)

The earliest instance I discovered on Google Books is dated 1845 from The step-mother by George Payne Rainsford James.

Ay! if ifs and also ands were pots and also pans, tbelow would certainly be no occupational for the tinkers.


Sven Yargs has discovered an even previously instance, in The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1828, from a poem entitled A chapter of Ifs

A Chapter of Ifs

If Ifs and also Ands were pots and pans, ’Twould certainly cure the tinker"s cares: if women did not carry fans, They’d provide themselves no airs: If dvery own the starry skies need to autumn, The starlings would be cheap: If Belles talk"d factor at a ball, The band also can go to sleep.

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And finally, published in 1821, an excerpt interpreted from a poem entitled Hans Beudix by the German poet Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794)

Hans Beudix

Are you tbelow, my old fox, through your ifs and your ans? But I require not remind you, they"re not pots and pans, Else tinkers would starve, (as I learnt from my nurse;) Still the answer shall pass, for it can have been worse.

See more: There Is A Thing That Nothing Is : "There Is A Thing, There Is A Thing That Nothing Is, T'

The original Gerguy poem can be discovered here: Der Kaiser und der Abt. Maybe someone can confirm if the translation is faithful.

Below is an Ngram comparing the two aphorisms: Don Meredith"s “...buts were candy and nuts” (blue line), and also the German/British “ands were pots and also pans” (red line) side by side in the American lutz-heilmann.info corpus. The time span is between 1968 and also 2008. The 1968-72 outcomes for Meredith"s coinage are false positives, so it"s constantly wise to take Ngrams with a pinch of salt. No outcomes are displayed for the Amerideserve to rhyme in the British lutz-heilmann.info corpus.