smell of the lamp

smell of the lamp

To show the signs of arduous, overwrought effort, and to lack freshness or vitality as a result. (Said especially of academic or literary work.) His thesis is meticulously crafted, but the paragraphs are so dry and calculated, and the paper lacks any flourish or style. As a whole, it rather smells of the lamp to me.
See also: lamp, of, smell
References in periodicals archive ?
For all their charm, these verses smell of the lamp, albeit with some astonishing flickers: "Bushes adieu
Although a man of scholarly bent, his novels do not smell of the lamp.
is that there is the smell of the lamp about it: it may reflect the tastes of the judges and dons who advance it, rather than the real preferences of the commonality of mortals.
The new parson takes his place and proceeds to read the morning prayer in a loud, clear voice without the aid of altar, pulpit, or prayer desk; he launches into his sermon, which, no doubt, had the length and smell of the lamp expected by eighteenth-century church-goers.