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And thereby hangs a tale

An expression, taken from As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, that means roughly “There's a real story behind this.” It is commonly used by someone who is about to give the background of an interesting object, incident, or idea: “The colonel remarked, ‘See that umbrella over the mantelpiece? It saved my life during the war, and thereby hangs a tale.’”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.