Idiom: In a nutshell

Cartoon woman standing inside a walnut shell reading from a sheet of paper to depict the idiom "in a nutshell"

Idiom: in a nutshell

The woman in the picture above is sitting inside a nutshell.  Can you guess what the idiom 'in a nutshell' means?

In a nutshell:   a brief / short summary of something.


The woman is inside a nutshell — the shell (outer part) of a nut (a small dry fruit that grows on trees or bushes). She's holding a paper and reading something.

Since the shell of a nut is so small any paper you could fit inside it would also have to be very small — so you'd only be able to write a few words or a brief summary of something.

Sentence examples

—  In a nutshell, my parents grounded me for five weeks after they caught me smoking behind the house.

—  I'm sorry to interrupt you but could you please give us your point in a nutshell?

—  It's a long and complicated story but in a nutshell, we're just barely going to make our financial targets this quarter.

—  I told my mother that, in a nutshell, my boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend and instead of just comforting me she wanted to know all the sordid details.

—  In a nutshell, we're going to have to close the company. Unfortunately, we won't be able to give further details until the end of the week.

—  We've just got five minutes left so does anyone want to give us their update in a nutshell?

—  In a nutshell, my client is innocent and we look forward to proving this during the trial.

—  I'm sorry but you cannot just answer the essay with the facts in a nutshell—you then have to explain how you used those facts to reach your conclusion.

—  For once, can you please give us the story In a nutshell?  We just need the important facts.

—  In a nutshell, you're fired. Please pack up your desk and leave now.

—  A:  “The dog ate your homework?”  B:  “In a nutshell, yes.”

—  It was the most boring movie I’ve ever seen. In a nutshell:  girl meets boy, falls in love, and they live happily ever after.

—  In a nutshell, we're putting you on probation. You've been late every day for two weeks and we need a reliable receptionist.

Cartoon of two businessmen standing in front of an enormous whiteboard that has an extremely complex formula. Caption: And that, in a nutshell, is my marketing plan. Any questions?

Did you like the comic?  I'm not sure that a coconut shell would even be big enough to hold that marketing plan!

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