Make No Bones About It (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Make No Bones About It"?

The term "make no bones about it" means to be very clear on an issue. It is often used before being open about an unpleasant or awkward matter.
Make No Bones About (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Make no bones about it. He's not the best candidate for the job.
  • I'll make no bones about it. That wasn't a great performance.
  • Of course, I loved my job once, but, make no bones about it, I can't wait to leave now.
In this idiom, the word "bones" was originally a metaphor for a complaint. This idea originates from the kitchens of 15th century English, specifically from soup. In any soup, finding small bones or bone fragments is an unwelcome discovery. Therefore, "to make bones about something" meant to complain. Conversely, "to make no bones about something" meant to get straight to the point (i.e., to not engage in a complaint).

Written using words in their literal sense, the full meaning of this saying is "I will not engage in a detailed complaint about this but will get straight to the point." Over time, the meaning has changed to include the following: "I will not go into the detail but will get straight to the point." So, nowadays, the word "bones" is a metaphor for a complaint and details.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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