Definition of chestnut in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtʃɛsnʌt/


1 (also sweet chestnut) A glossy hard brown edible nut which develops within a bristly case and which may be roasted and eaten.
Example sentences
  • Some authors have suggested that their flavour and texture are comparable with those of the chestnut or cashew nut.
  • Almost equally invigorating is a poached chicken, sliced into strips atop a mound of basmati rice but bathed in a potion of tarragon and chestnuts.
  • And I can't really tell you how it was made, as I spent the entire recipe-making time chopping walnuts and chestnuts, sneaking teeny bits in every now and then.
1.1 [mass noun] A deep reddish-brown colour: [as modifier]: chestnut hair
More example sentences
  • They had the same straight chestnut hair and deep green eyes.
  • She had a sweet smile, and her light olive skin went with deep, chestnut hair.
  • She flung her deep chestnut hair away from her eyes.
1.2 (also chesnut) A horse of a reddish-brown or yellowish-brown colour, with a brown mane and tail: [as modifier]: a chestnut stallion
More example sentences
  • Sharon rides Andy, a chestnut Quarter Horse who has never before experienced dressage.
  • Berndon was looking at a chestnut mare with a black mane and tail and took out some coins to pay for it.
  • The chestnut colt is the last foal out of Jewell Ridge, who died on August 1.
2 (also chestnut tree, sweet chestnut, or Spanish chestnut) The large European tree that produces the edible chestnut, with serrated leaves and heavy timber.
  • Castanea sativa, family Fagaceae.
Example sentences
  • Greece originally introduced the chestnut tree to the rest of the European community.
  • As she got nearer she saw him shaded from the sun by the leaves of the chestnut tree.
  • One damaged chestnut tree and five mature conifers had to be removed.
2.1 short for horse chestnut.
2.2Used in names of trees and plants that are related to the sweet chestnut, or produce similar nuts or edible parts that resemble them, e.g. water chestnut.
Example sentences
  • They also collected a broad variety of wild herbs, wild vegetables such as acorns, water chestnuts, and broad beans, and possibly wild rice.
  • In general, European chestnut trees haven't suffered as devastating an outbreak as their American cousins.
  • The European species of chestnut catches the disease, too, and early researchers noticed some Italian trees that seemed to have spontaneously recovered their health.
3A small horny patch on the inside of each of a horse’s legs.
Example sentences
  • The small chestnut patches on its shoulders are not always visible.



an old chestnut

A joke, story, or subject that has become tedious and uninteresting through constant repetition: the subject under discussion is that old chestnut, public or private financing of the arts
More example sentences
  • This is an old chestnut of a story, and like the previous similar surveys it has a huge flaw which undermines the result: you don't know if the respondents are telling the truth.
  • Another barrier comes tumbling down, as that old chestnut about the Germans never making a funny comedy has to be consigned to the history book.
  • In the past she has denied the old chestnut about women not being as funny as men but today she clearly can't be bothered fighting.

pull someone's chestnuts out of the fire

Succeed in a hazardous undertaking for someone else’s benefit.
With reference to the fable of a monkey using a cat's paw to extract roasting chestnuts from a fire
Example sentences
  • For example, we have pulled your chestnuts out of the fire in two world wars that were occasioned by European diplomacy.
  • I think it'll take more than him to pull their chestnuts out of the fire.
  • Whatever it takes to pull his chestnuts out of the fire in Virginia.


Early 16th century: from Old English chesten (from Old French chastaine, via Latin from Greek kastanea) + nut.

  • Chestnuts have nothing to do with chests—the ultimate source is the Greek word kastanea ‘chestnut’ (ultimate source also of the Spanish castanets (early 17th century), presumably from the shape). A frequently repeated joke or story is known as an old chestnut. First recorded in the 1880s, the phrase probably comes from a play called The Broken Sword, written by William Dimond in 1816. In one scene a character called Zavior is in the throes of telling a story: ‘When suddenly from the thick boughs of a cork tree—’. At this point he is interrupted by another character, Pablo, who says: ‘A chestnut, Captain, a chestnut…Captain, this is the twenty-seventh time I have heard you relate this story, and you invariably said, a chestnut, till now.’

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: chest|nut

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