If someone says they do not want to hear “no ifs, ands, or buts” then that means they don’t want to hear any excuses being made.
Example: Okay, Jimmy. You have been relaxing for a few hours, but now it’s time to do some chores around the house. The garbage needs to be taken out, your room needs to be cleaned, and the dishes need to be done. I want these things to be done within the hour, no ifs, ands, or buts, alright?
In other words, Jimmy’s mom wanted him to do these chores without coming up with a reason for why he can’t. She didn’t want to hear any excuses.
The Origin Of ‘No Ifs, Ands, Or Buts
Oftentimes, when a person makes an excuse on why they don’t want to do something, these excuses involve the conjectures “if,” “and,” or “but.” For instance, imagine a parent telling their child to take out the trash. But instead of complying, the child comes up with an excuse and says: “But I’m in the middle of something. I’ll do it later.”
Or perhaps they are asked to do their dirty laundry, but they respond with: “It’s almost bed time and I’m tired, what if I did the dishes tomorrow?” They are making excuses to get out of the responsibilities they have. Thus, someone who is tired of hearing these excuses might say they don’t want to hear those pesky words. That is, the words “if, ands, or buts.” They just want the person to do what they say.
Anyways, let’s talk about how old this phrase is. It is at least over 150 years old, because it was used during the 1800s. For instance, this saying was written in the New York Daily Times newspaper from the year 1854:
“No ifs or ands or buts about it.”
This is the earliest appearance of the phrase that I am aware of.
- Bob hasn’t been focusing on his homework lately. He’s been playing video games, and so his grades have suffered. His mother told him that he needs to prioritize his homework over games, and she didn’t want to hear any ifs ands or buts about it.
Note: There are times indeed when the origin of a phrase is simply not known. Sometimes, then, what’s provided are theories as to how a phrase may originated. If no theories are listed, then I’ll usually try to provide a quote of the earliest known citation of a phrase.
In addition, quotes that contain a phrase may be taken from old newspapers, poems, or books that were written centuries ago. Just because I quote an old newspaper from, say, 1750, this does not mean the idiom originates from that year. The quote is there to give you an idea on at least how old the the idiom is.