If Ifs And Buts Were Candy And Nuts – Meaning, Origin & Usage (9 Examples)

Understanding new proverbs are the critical stepping stone you need to level up your English language skills. We thought we’d show you what “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts” means and where it came from.

What Does “If Ifs And Buts Were Candy And Nuts, We’d All Have A Merry Christmas” Mean?

“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas” means if we always got what we wanted after saying “if” or “but,” every day would be a great day filled with pleasure. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in reality. This saying pokes fun at that.

What Does "If Ifs And Buts Were Candy And Nuts, We'd All Have A Merry Christmas" Mean?

Origin Of The Saying “If Ifs And Buts Were Candy And Nuts, We’d All Have A Merry Christmas”

The saying comes from a much older nursery rhyme, known as “if wishes were horses.” The idea is that if these everyday things that we say or see were replaced with something that we want, then we’d always end up with wishes (or candy and nuts) and never be worried about life again.

Former quarterback Don Meredith then popularized the saying during Monday Night Football in 1970. One of his fellow sports commentators said, “if Los Angeles wins,” and he responded with the famous phrase, which later became his catchphrase.

While the nursery rhyme is the correct origin for the phrase, it’s more commonly accepted that Don Meredith was the pioneer that led to its popularity today.

The nursery rhyme comes from the 17th Century and was referenced even earlier by Sir Thomas More in 1513 (saying, “thou servest me, I think, with ifs and with ands”).

A Popular Idiom In TV History

Since 1970, the idiom has been primarily used in television. It’s a common and popular idiom to use in different comedy shows. Since the saying is used as a humorous reply to someone wishing that something didn’t happen or expressing regret in some way, it works really well.

Let’s look through some of the most famous examples out there.

Sheldon Cooper

One of the characters from the sitcom The Big Bang Theory is talking to a scientist about the declassification of Pluto as a planet. The conversation went like this.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: But I actually didn’t demote Pluto…

Sheldon Cooper: If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas. Think about that, Dr. Tyson.

The saying is used here in response to Tyson’s “but” at the start of his line. Sheldon Cooper is drawing attention to his regret of the situation by saying that if we could simply ignore our “buts” or replace them with “nuts,” then we’d always have a much better time with things in life.

Homer Simpson

In the Simpson’s, the lovable father, Homer, is having a conversation with his wife Marge, and the saying appears.

Marge: But Balzac is the name.

Homer: If ifs and buts were candy and nuts – Uh, how does the rest of that go?

In this case, Homer jokingly makes fun of “Balzac’s” name. He doesn’t believe that Marge gives him a real name and instead uses a rude word. Marge clarifies by saying “but,” and Homer continues on with the retort.

The humorous part about this response is that it doesn’t quite fit in here. Homer’s whole character is based on the idea that he’s not that smart and doesn’t understand basic ideas like this saying. Since he didn’t even know how to finish it, that only added to the script’s humor.

When Marge says “but,” she wasn’t regretting anything that Homer was talking about. Instead, she was correcting his own mistake.

Dwight Schrute

Dwight Schrute is seen as an unusual and eccentric character in The Office. He is the butt of the joke in most of the office shenanigans, and it only makes sense that the scriptwriters give him a line that encourages this humor.

Dwight changes the saying himself and ends up with it as follows.

Dwight:If onlys and buts were candys and nuts, then everyday would be Erntedankfest.

Instead of talking about “ifs,” Dwight instead uses “onlys.” That’s because he’s responding to someone using “only” at the time. The fact that he changes the saying from the original shows how strange of a person he is and adds value to his character.

Also, the “Erntedankfest” is German for “harvest festival,” which uses another one of Dwight’s unusual interests to make fun of the saying.

All Variations Of “If Ifs And Buts Were Candy And Nuts”

There are a few variations that we’ve already covered, and there are a few more out there that we thought would be good to share with you. You can use most of these interchangeably, but we’ll tell you if there are any noticeable differences that you can make use of!

  • If ifs and buts were apples and nuts

The content of the phrase isn’t what’s important. People might not like “candy” and instead prefer “apples.” That’s why this saying is used in place of the original one we’ve spoken about. It’s up to you which content and words you’d rather use.

  • If ifs and ands were pots and pans

This one works in the same way; however, we’re using “and” as an alternative to “but.” In this case, “and” is used in a way to show regret. We often have to include “if” after it, meaning that the phrase “and if” is applied to this saying.

  • If ifs and buts were coconuts

Rather than using two things at the end of this phrase, we can replace the two words with a simple “coconuts.” The rhythm of the phrase is not interrupted, and it still means the same thing.

  • If ifs and buts were whiskey and nuts

This one is strictly used in adult situations. Since adults are the only ones allowed to drink whiskey, they’re also the only ones who will appreciate it for its value (and thus enjoy it if ifs and buts were replaced by whiskey).

  • If ifs and buts were bolts and nuts

This isn’t the most common saying and usually only applies to people who work in a trade. That’s because bolts and nuts aren’t considered “fits” or “pleasant” in most cases. However, to a tradesman, bolts and nuts are useful and can make their work life a lot easier!

How To Use “If Ifs And Buts Were Candy And Nuts” In A Sentence

The variations and meanings have been completed, so it’s time to see how we might use the saying in a sentence. This way, you can start working on trying to use it yourself.

Remember, if anyone ever uses “if” or “but” to show remorse or regret, it might be a good time to use the saying. Ensure you know who you’re saying it to, as it can be insensitive if you misuse it.

  • If only I could see her again.
  • If ifs and buts were candy and nuts
  • But you promised!
  • If ifs and buts were candy and nuts
  • But you said you’d be there, dad!
  • If ifs and buts were whiskey and nuts
  • And if I don’t get the right grade, I won’t get in!
  • If ifs and ands were pots and pans
  • If you’re not going to help me, maybe just go!
  • If ifs and buts were coconuts
  • But what makes you say that?
  • If ifs and buts were bolts and nuts
  • If I could just have more time
  • If ifs and buts were apples and nuts
  • But what if she doesn’t like me back?
  • If ifs and buts were candy and nuts
  • And if I can’t find where I’m looking for?
  • If ifs and ands were pots and pans

Every time we use the saying, we have to first spot someone using “if,” “and,” or “but” and use the correct saying. To make sure it’s accurate, you have to check whether the word is included in the saying.

For example, if someone said “but I can’t do that,” and you said “if ifs and ands,” then you wouldn’t be humorously replying to their comment, as you do not include “buts” in your saying. Make sure you know what they just said so you could find the right response to it.

We encourage you to practice one of these and stick with that one each time. You don’t need to know all of them, and you don’t need to practice the variety, because that might confuse you!

If you’re comfortable with the saying, then, by all means, try and learn some more! But if you’re new to it, then stick to one or two variations!

Related Sayings

Let’s finish with some related sayings that have similar meanings but might not be quite the same! These are great to use if you can fit them in.

  • If ifs and buts were pots and pans

This is related to the ones we mentioned above but used “buts” instead of “ands.”

This comes from the original nursery rhyme that the saying is based on.

  • If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

The same nursery rhyme as the “fishes” one is applied here, and both sayings work really well together. They make for good synonyms.