Q: After devouring Origins of the Specious in two sittings, I have actually a question: On page 162, you use the expression “no ifs, ands, or buts.” Are you OK with this? Has it replaced “no ifs, ans, or buts” in the segment of the grammarphile neighborhood that doesn’t have actually a stick up its you-know-what?

A: The prevalent expression is indeed “No ifs, ands, or buts.” However before, you may wonder what “and” is doing tright here. As it happens, “and” is there for a reason.

You are watching: No if ands or buts about it

The original expression was “ifs and also ands” (periodically “ifs or ands”) as soon as it showed up in print in the at an early stage 1sixth century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

At the time, the word “and” was frequently offered in a conditional sense, and also its meaning, the OED states, was “if; intend that, provided that, on problem that.”

This use of the conditional “and” days ago to about 1225 in videotaped English. So, a expression choose “and it please your grace” would certainly mean “if it please your grace.”

When the expression “ifs and ands” came alengthy in the 1500s, it basically meant “ifs and also ifs.”

The first videotaped use is from Sir Thomas More’s unfiniburned occupational The History of Kyng Ricdifficult the Third, which More composed around 1513.

See more: What Does It Mean To Take The Wind Out Of My Sails ? Take The Wind Out Of Sails

In an especially dramatic passage, the mad King Richard pulls up a sleeve to display screen his withered arm (a birth defect) and clintends the deformity is current – the outcome of sorcery and also treason.

The Lord Chamberlain answers, “Undoubtedly my lorde if they have so heinously done, thei be worthy heinous punishment.”

To which Ricdifficult flies into a rage: “Thou servest me, I wene, via iffes and also via andes.” (“Wene” is an archaic word interpretation something like “believe” or “suspect.”)

Here’s another, rather cooler, instance of “ifs and also ands” a century and a half later, from the English thinker Ralph Cudworth’s The True Pundit System of the Universe (1678): “Absolutely and also without any Ifs and Ands.”

Around this same time, “buts” were included to the mix. This is from the works of the Puritan theologian Thomas Goodwin (about 1680): “The Grants of Grace run without Ifs, and Ands, and Buts.”

The phrase has actually primarily been “ifs, ands, or buts” for the last 300 years. In contemporary English, the OED notes, the “and” is no much longer the old conditional “and also,” but is “now prob. mostly understood as the ordinary feeling of the word.”