the shell of a nut.
in a nutshell, in very brief form; in a few words: Just tell me the story in a nutshell.

1175–1225; Middle English nutescell; see nut, shell Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
nutshell (ˈnʌtˌʃɛl)
1.  the shell around the kernel of a nut
2.  in a nutshell in essence; briefly

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, nute-scalen; see nut + shell. Figurative use with reference to "great condensation" (1570s) is in allusion to a copy of the Iliad, mentioned by Pliny, which was so small it could fit into the shell of a nut.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see in a nutshell.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
In a nutshell, you are wanting to replace oil with something worse.
In a nutshell, that's what's wrong with our education system.
In a nutshell, none of any the above valorizes the cosmological argument.
In a nutshell, it is in the interest of the administration alone to keep this
  hushed up.
Idioms & Phrases
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