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to lie in a nutshell
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Nutshell \Nut"shell`\, n. 1. The shell or hard external covering in which the kernel of a nut is inclosed. [1913 Webster] 2. Hence, a thing of little compass, or of little value. [1913 Webster] 3. (Zool.) A shell of the genus Nucula. [1913 Webster] in a nutshell in a summarized and very abbreviated form; -- of statments, descriptions, reports, and other communications; as, to describe the convention in a nutshell. To be in a nutshell or To lie in a nutshell,, to be within a small compass; to admit of very brief or simple determination or statement. "The remedy lay in a nutshell." --Macaulay. [1913 Webster +PJC]