The idiom "nooks and crannies" refers to small, hidden, or out-of-the-way places. People use it to describe a physical space, such as a room or a house, or a figurative space, such as a person's mind or heart.
The phrase "nooks and crannies" refers to small, hidden spots that are hard to find.
A "nook" is a little corner, while a "cranny" is a narrow opening or crack. So "nooks and crannies" are the little corners and cracks that we don't usually see. When we say we're exploring the "nooks and crannies" of a topic, we mean we're investigating all the details, especially the small, hidden ones.
To explore the nooks and crannies, we dig deep to uncover the most subtle and intricate parts. People use it to describe detailed exploration, thorough searches, or meticulous work.
The idiom "nooks and crannies" is first recorded in the early 1500s. However, it is likely that the idiom is much older. Both words refer to small, often hidden places: a nook is a corner or recess, particularly in a room, while a cranny is a small, narrow opening or crevice. Combining the two words, the phrase itself seems to have been in use since at least the 17th century.
"I take an interest in all the nooks and crannies and every development of cities; s0 here I try to make a description of the view from the back windows of a house in the centre of Boston..."
-Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1870
To better understand the idiom's usage, let's examine its use in a variety of contexts:
"Nooks and Crannies" has found its way into various elements of pop culture, illustrating its widespread use and familiarity.
Let's take a look at some examples:
While "nooks and crannies" is a very specific phrase, there are some alternatives or similar expressions that can be used to convey the same idea:
"Nooks and crannies" refers to small, secluded, or hidden places often overlooked in a larger space. It can be used literally, such as referring to hidden parts of a building, or metaphorically, such as aspects of a problem or situation.
For example, you can say, "We spent the entire day cleaning every nook and cranny of the house," or "He knows the nooks and crannies of this legislation better than anyone else."
The phrase "nooks and crannies" is believed to originate from old English, where "nook" meant a corner and "cranny" referred to a small crack or fissure. Combined, they describe the minor, often overlooked parts of a larger whole.
"Nooks and crannies" can be used in both formal and informal settings, as it is a common and widely accepted phrase in English.
Yes, the phrase can be used metaphorically to refer to overlooked aspects of abstract concepts, such as problems, situations, or ideas.
Yes, it can be used metaphorically to describe intricate details or aspects of a story, argument, or concept.
While it's more common to use "nooks and crannies" to describe physical places or abstract ideas, it can also be used metaphorically to refer to aspects of a person's character or personality.
Yes, "nooks and crannies" is a common idiom in both British and American English.
Absolutely! The phrase "nooks and crannies" often refers to secluded or hidden places that are part of a larger area.
While it's not inappropriate, the use of idiomatic expressions like "nooks and crannies" in academic writing depends on the context and the stylistic guidelines of the specific academic discipline. Some might prefer more direct language.
The correct form is "nooks and crannies." "nook" and "cranny" are singular nouns, so they become plural "nooks" and "crannies" in the idiom.
"Nooks and crannies" is an idiom that vividly expresses the idea of small, hidden, or overlooked parts of a larger whole. It can be used in a wide range of literal and metaphorical contexts to add color and detail to your language.
Here's a quick recap:
So, the next time you want to convey the intricacies or hidden aspects of something, consider using the phrase "nooks and crannies."