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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.’
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
A stale joke, anecdote, or adage. This term has a specific source, the play The Broken Sword by William Dimond, first produced in 1816. The principal character, a Captain Xavier, constantly repeats the same stories, one of which involves a cork tree. Pablo, another character, interrupts, saying, “Chestnut, you mean, captain. I have heard you tell the joke twenty-seven times, and I am sure it was a chestnut.” The play has long since been forgotten, but the term survives, and has itself become an old chestnut.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer