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long and short of it, the

The substance or gist of something, as in The first page of this report will give you the long and short of it. This expression, originally stated as the short and long of it, dates from about 1500, the present order being established by the end of the 1600s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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