When to be it an initial used? Is this the original idiom, or to be there an larger version? Furthermore, exactly how should its meaning be interpreted?


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The aphorism was coined by the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Don Meredith, that later ended up being a sporting activities commentator for the TV display Monday Night Football in 1970.

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

Howard Cosell: “If Los Angeles wins, the a large one, but San Francisco is still really much in it.” Don Meredith: “If ifs and also buts were candy and also nuts, wednesday all have a merry Christmas.

You are watching: If ifs and ands were pots and pans

” Howard: “I no think you will do remember that old canard.” Don: “Is the what the was?”

Source: Barry Popik.com

The 1970 quip soon came to be Meredith"s catchphrase, but it was a contemporary and comical twist on a lot older proverb date from the 19th century

If ifs and also ands were pots and also pans, there’d it is in no work for tinkers’ hands” Oxford Reference

This proverb is used as a humorous retort to someone expressing a forlorn regret (e.g. if only I had actually the money...) or one unrealistic and perhaps over optimistic problem (... and if I had actually the ideal connections, I could be famous.)

The earliest instance I uncovered on Google publications is date 1845 native The step-mother by George Payne Rainsford James.

Ay! if ifs and ands to be pots and also pans, there would be no work for the tinkers.


Sven Yargs has found an even earlier example, in The brand-new Monthly Magazine and also Literary Journal, 1828, native a city entitled A thing of Ifs

A thing of Ifs

If Ifs and Ands were pots and pans, ’Twould cure the tinker"s cares: if women did not bring fans, They’d give themselves no airs: If under the starry skies must fall, The starlings would be cheap: If Belles talk"d reason at a ball, The band might go to sleep.

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And finally, published in 1821, one excerpt analyzed from a city entitled Hans Beudix by the German poet Gottfried august Bürger (1747-1794)

Hans Beudix

Are you there, my old fox, through your ifs and your ans? however I need not repeat you, they"re not pots and pans, else tinkers would starve, (as i learnt from my nurse;) quiet the answer candlestick pass, because that it could have to be worse.

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The initial German poem have the right to be found here: Der Kaiser und der Abt. Probably someone have the right to confirm if the translation is faithful.

Below is one Ngram comparing the two aphorisms: Don Meredith"s “...buts to be candy and also nuts” (blue line), and the German/British “ands were pots and pans” (red line) next by next in the American lungemine.com corpus. The time expectancy is in between 1968 and also 2008. The 1968-72 outcomes for Meredith"s coinage are false positives, therefore it"s constantly wise to take it Ngrams v a pinch of salt. No results are presented for the American rhyme in the brother lungemine.com corpus.