'in a nutshell' and 'in short'

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Senior Member
Hello :)

I've studied English composition these days,
and the two terms - 'in a nutshell' and 'in short' - made me confused a lot.

Do they have the same meaning? or different in usage?

I think,
'in short' could be used in the conclusion, but not 'in a nutshell.'
In other words, 'in short' is translated to be 'that is,'
while 'in a nutshell' is translated to be 'briefly.'

Do I understand right? or not?

Please correct and tell me the right usage.

Thank you ;-)
  • Driven

    Senior Member
    I think they are both saying the same thing. "In short" as well as "in a nutshell" mean "to say it in a very concise way". Both of them are saying, "I'm going to boil it all down to a simple statement."


    Senior Member
    US, English
    They are very similar in meaning, and they are used interchangeably. In short means the short version is, while in a nutshell means I will distill it down to what I could fit in a nutshell (or I will make this really short and simple).
    Either of them could be used to offer a conclusion, but I would consider in a nutshell to be a bit more colloquial. In short is a bit more formal. For an even more formal phrase, you might say in summary.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think they are quite interchangeable in BE.

    We would often feel a need to introduce in a nutshell, with something like to put it in a nutshell, whereas we don't need to introduce in short.

    I think in a nutshell is closer to in summary than to in short, and that the image is still alive to mean a small space - i.e. that it hasn't taken on such a life of its own that no picture of a nut is evoked, ever.

    The image is ancient; Shakespeare uses it in Hamlet:

    I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. Hamlet, Act II, scene 2.


    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Although they are very close in meaning, I would not interchange them. When you explain something to someone and they summarise it, you would say "That's it, in a nutshell". You would (probably) not say "That's it, in short".

    This particular use of the expression is the most common one for me.
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