an old chestnut

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old chestnut

A topic, saying, or joke that has been repeated so much that it has become boring or irksome. Whether there's truth in it or not, I can't stand that old chestnut "follow your heart."
See also: chestnut, old

an old chestnut

or

a hoary old chestnut

mainly BRITISH
COMMON If you describe something that is said or written as an old chestnut or a hoary old chestnut, you mean that it has been repeated so often that it is no longer interesting. Finally, how do you answer that old interview chestnut: `Why should I hire you?' The film is based on the hoary old chestnut of good twin/bad twin, separated at birth, final fatal meeting — you get the idea.
See also: chestnut, old

an old chestnut

a joke, story, or subject that has become tedious and boring as a result of its age and constant repetition.
The most likely source for this sense of chestnut is in the following exchange between two characters, Zavior and Pablo, in William Dimond 's play Broken Sword ( 1816 ): ZAVIOR…When suddenly from the thick boughs of a cork tree— PABLO. (Jumping up) A chesnut, Captain, a chesnut…Captain, this is the twenty-seventh time I have heard you relate this story, and you invariably said, a chesnut, until now.
See also: chestnut, old

an/that old ˈchestnut

(informal) a joke or story that has often been repeated and as a result is no longer amusing: ‘He told us all about the police arresting him for climbing into his own house.’ ‘Oh, no, not that old chestnut again.’
See also: chestnut, old, that
References in periodicals archive ?
Key words: Alberta, distribution, Eastern Red Bat, Hoary Bat, Lasiurus borealis, Lasiurus cinereus
On Sunday night, Radio 5 Live are resurrecting the hoary debate about Britain's Second City.
Desert Quest is taken to make a winning start over fences in the Hoary Morning Beginners' Chase at Taunton.
The hoary frost, edges each blade of grass, each leaf
The storyline of this second episode is that hoary old horror mystery, the disappearing lighthouse men.
Their tracks can be lullaby sweet and vaguely spooky, like Bubblyfish's pretty, uncanny "Translucent"; or elegant, folkie creations like those of Chicago-based Mark DeNardo, a classically trained violinist and fan of John Cage; while others are throbbing and--to my hoary ears at the rump end of the eighteen-to-thirty-five demographic--suitably new and jarring enough to stir up some sort of cultural ruckus.
HERE'S a hoary standard that's been spun a few times...record companies rig the singles charts.
"Grow or die" may be a hoary business maxim, but it's an aesthetic imperative as well.
After all, Christianity is an ancient religion and if it persists in following hoary beliefs--oh, well.
Maybe it's the hoary old jokes or maybe it's the characters, who seem compelled to say and do the most predictable things.
Still, Quinton's direction is sufficiently attentive to the hoary conventions of Grand Guignol.
Connections might have more honestly said: "We just ran out of serious questions", rather than the hoary old chestnut: "He was probably over the top."
Despite hoary stereotypes about their older sisters being anti-fashion, pleasure-hating, puritanical prudes, many of us would say "right on!"
But while the assignment probably did force students to "think critically" about the relationship between geometry and nature, they might have thought much harder by learning in the hoary old way: working through proofs of complex geometrical theorems.
Before they search for these hoary microbes, scientists must first develop techniques for tapping the water without spoiling it.