[ches-nuht, -nuh t]



being reddish-brown in color.
(of food) containing or made with chestnuts: turkey with chestnut stuffing.


    pull someone's chestnuts out of the fire, to rescue someone from a difficulty.

Origin of chestnut

1350–1400; 1880–85 for def 6; earlier chesten nut, Middle English chesten, Old English cysten chestnut tree (< Latin castanea < Greek kastanéa) + nut
Related formschest·nut·ty, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chestnut

Contemporary Examples of chestnut

Historical Examples of chestnut

  • He heard the hum and clang of an electric car off through a chestnut grove.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But Andrew, with the chestnut running like a red flash beneath him, had vanished.

  • I'll trade this chestnut—and he's a fine traveler—with a good price to boot.

  • Reginald, having finished his chestnut, squeaked for another.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • With my tomahawk I cut a mark in that chestnut yonder and buried my weapon at the foot of it.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

British Dictionary definitions for chestnut



any N temperate fagaceous tree of the genus Castanea, such as C. sativa (sweet or Spanish chestnut), which produce flowers in long catkins and nuts in a prickly burCompare horse chestnut, water chestnut, dwarf chestnut
the edible nut of any of these trees
the hard wood of any of these trees, used in making furniture, etc
  1. a reddish-brown to brown colour
  2. (as adjective)chestnut hair
a horse of a yellow-brown or golden-brown colour
a small horny callus on the inner surface of a horse's leg
informal an old or stale joke

Word Origin for chestnut

C16: from earlier chesten nut: chesten, from Old French chastaigne, from Latin castanea, from Greek kastanea
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for chestnut

1560s, from chesten nut (1510s), with superfluous nut (n.) + Middle English chasteine, from Old French chastain (12c., Modern French châtaigne), from Latin castanea "chestnut, chestnut tree," from Greek kastaneia, which the Greeks thought meant either "nut from Castanea" in Pontus, or "nut from Castana" in Thessaly, but probably both places are named for the trees, not the other way around, and the word is borrowed from a language of Asia Minor (cf. Armenian kask "chestnut," kaskeni "chestnut tree"). In reference to the dark reddish-brown color, 1650s. Applied to the horse-chestnut by 1832.

Slang sense of "venerable joke or story" is from 1885, explained 1888 by Joseph Jefferson (see "Lippincott's Monthly Magazine," January 1888) as probably abstracted from the 1816 melodrama "The Broken Sword" by William Dimond where an oft-repeated story involving a chestnut tree figures in an exchange between the characters "Captain Zavior" and "Pablo":

Zav. Let me see--ay! it is exactly six years since that peace being restored to Spain, and my ship paid off, my kind brother offered me a snug hammock in the dwelling of my forefathers. I mounted a mule at Barcelona and trotted away for my native mountains. At the dawn of the fourth day's journey, I entered the wood of Collares, when, suddenly, from the thick boughs of a cork-tree--
Pab. [Jumping up.] A chesnut, Captain, a chesnut!
Zav. Bah, you booby! I say, a cork!
Pab. And I swear, a chesnut. Captain, this is the twenty-seventh time 1 have heard you relate this story, and you invariably said, a chesnut, till now.

Jefferson traced the connection through William Warren, "the veteran comedian of Boston" who often played Pablo in the melodrama.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with chestnut


see old chestnut.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.