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To make a long story short

  • To make a long story short is an idiom rooted in ancient times. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom to make a long story short, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    To make a long story short means to get directly to the important part of a narrative, to leave out unimportant or boring details in one’s story, to leave out irrelevant information. The expression to make a long story short is often shortened to simply, long story short. The phrase to make a long story short came into use in the 1800s. Henry David Thoreau wrote the following in a letter in 1857: “Not that the story need to be long, but it will take a long time to make it short.” The phrase was probably in use before this time. The idea of shortening a long-winded tale goes back thousands of years; the Roman writer, Pacuvius, wrote in 160 B.C.: “Ut multa paucis verba unose obnuntiem,” which roughly means say a lot in a few words.

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    Examples

    To make a long story short, an investigative committee was formed to look into the discrepancies of the Edwards Wood Products Grant. (Laurinburg Exchange)

    Well, to make a long story short, two student-athletes from Charles Marion Russell High School earned career high milestones on the very same night – Saturday, in fact – as the homestanding Rustlers pulled away from the Belgrade Panthers 64-45, their first Eastern AA win in the last five games. (Grand Falls Tribune)

    When I got back into golf earlier this year—long story short, I picked up tennis in 2015, but then I tore my ACL, which eventually led me back to golf this year—I discovered that I was a calmer person. (Golf Digest)


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