smell of the lamp

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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

smell of the lamp

show signs of laborious study and effort.
The lamp here is an oil lamp, formerly used for night-time work or study.
See also: lamp, of, smell
References in periodicals archive ?
But her learning smells of the lamp, of long hours in a mittel-Europa study, abstracted from the street and the workplace.
But her learning smells of the lamp, of long hours n a mittel-Europa study, abstracted from the street and the workplace.