pull someones chestnuts out the fire


[ches-nuht, -nuht]
any of the several deciduous trees constituting the genus Castanea, of the beech family, having toothed, oblong leaves and bearing edible nuts enclosed in a prickly bur, and including C. dentata (American chestnut) which has been virtually destroyed by the chestnut blight, C. sativa (European chestnut) C. mollissima (Chinese chestnut) and C. crenata (Japanese chestnut)
the edible nut of such a tree.
the wood of any of these trees.
any fruit or tree resembling the chestnut, as the horse chestnut.
reddish brown.
an old or stale joke, anecdote, etc.
the callosity on the inner side of the leg of a horse. See diag. under horse.
a reddish-brown horse having the mane and tail of the same color. Compare bay5 ( def 2 ).
Also called liver chestnut. a horse of a solid, dark-brown color.
(of food) containing or made with chestnuts: turkey with chestnut stuffing.
pull someone's chestnuts out of the fire, to rescue someone from a difficulty.

1350–1400; 1880–85 for def 6; earlier chesten nut, Middle English chesten, Old English cysten chestnut tree (< Latin castanea < Greek kastanéa) + nut

chestnutty, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
chestnut (ˈtʃɛsˌnʌt)
1.  horse chestnut water chestnut Compare dwarf chestnut any N temperate fagaceous tree of the genus Castanea, such as C. sativa (sweet or Spanish chestnut), which produce flowers in long catkins and nuts in a prickly bur
2.  the edible nut of any of these trees
3.  the hard wood of any of these trees, used in making furniture, etc
4.  a.  a reddish-brown to brown colour
 b.  (as adjective): chestnut hair
5.  a horse of a yellow-brown or golden-brown colour
6.  a small horny callus on the inner surface of a horse's leg
7.  informal an old or stale joke
[C16: from earlier chesten nut: chesten, from Old French chastaigne, from Latin castanea, from Greek kastanea]

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

1570, from chesten nut (1519), from M.E. chasteine, from O.Fr. chastaigne, from L. castanea, from Gk. kastaneia, which the Greeks thought meant either "nut from Castanea" in Pontus, or "nut from Castana" in Thessaly, but probably both places are named for the trees, not the other way around, and the
word is probably borrowed from a language of Asia Minor. Of the dark reddish-brown color, 1656. Applied to the horse-chestnut 1832. Slang sense of "venerable joke or story" is from 1886, probably from a joke (first recorded 1888) based on an oft-repeated story in which a chestnut tree figures. The key part of the 1888 citation is:
"When suddenly from the thick boughs of a cork-tree --"
"A chestnut, Captain; a chestnut."
"Bah! booby, I say a cork-tree!"
"A chestnut," reiterates Pablo. "I should know as well as you, having heard you tell the tale these twenty-seven times."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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