Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > On the Shelf.

 On the Loose.One-horse System (A). 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
On the Shelf.
Passé, no longer popular, one of the “has-beens.” The reference is not to pawns laid on the shelf, but to books no longer read, and clothes no longer worn, laid by on the shelf.   1

 On the Loose.One-horse System (A). 

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