Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a large smooth red-brown nut that you can eat

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun chestnut comes from Middle English ‘chesten-nut‘ which was originally ‘chasteine -‘ or ‘chesteine nut’. This was then shortened to ‘chestenutor the modern form chestnut. The word is first recorded in English in the early 16th century, coming from Old French.


Chestnut has a number of meanings in addition to the ‘nut’ one given above. In the UK it refers to two different trees: the chestnut tree, sometimes called the sweet chestnut, which produces the edible nuts also called chestnuts; and the horse chestnut, which has beautiful showy flowers in the spring and in the autumn produces shiny, hard, round seeds with spiny cases called conkers. Chestnut is also a colour, used mainly to refer to horses and to hair. A water chestnut is not a nut at all but a hard white vegetable used in Asian cooking. An old chestnut, finally, is a story or joke that has been repeated so often that everyone is bored with it. Chestnut and horse chestnut are two of the Macmillan Dictionary entries that have recently been enhanced by the addition of images.


“What had to move – a leaf of the chestnut tree, for instance – moved.”
(Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way)

This is the weather the cuckoo likes, And so do I; When showers betumble the chestnut spikes, And nestlings fly:
(Thomas Hardy, Weathers)

Related words

alder, beech, hazel

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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