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in stitches

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Laughing uncontrollably, as in Joke after joke had me in stitches. Although the precise idiom dates only from about 1930, Shakespeare had a similar expression in Twelfth Night (3:2): “If you desire the spleen, and will laugh yourselves into stitches, follow me.” Stitches here refers to the sharp local pain (known as a stitch in the side) that can make one double over, much as a fit of laughter can.

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

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