definitions
  • synonyms

old chestnut

A stale joke, story, or saying, as in Dad keeps on telling that old chestnut about how many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb. This expression comes from William Dimond's play, The Broken Sword (1816), in which one character keeps repeating the same stories, one of them about a cork tree, and is interrupted each time by another character who says “Chestnut, you mean . . . I have heard you tell the joke twenty-seven times and I am sure it was a chestnut.”

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RELATED WORDS

timeworn, corny, trite, banal, stale, threadbare, well-worn, banality, bromide, platitude, parable, myth, yarn, fiction, tale, fantasy, legend, sketch, episode, narration

Nearby words

old bulgarian, old castile, old catholic, old catholics, old chap, old chestnut, old chum, old church slavonic, old clothes man, old college try, the, old comedy
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.