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a cut above

a cut above

superior to – informal

1998 - Spectator - Samuel was a scholar and his contributions are a cut above the rest.


an atmosphere that you could cut with a knife

a general feeling of great tension or malevolence

be cut out for = be cut out to be

have exactly the right qualities for a particular role, task or job – informal

The sense of cut out here is formed or fashioned by cutting as the pieces of a garment are cut out from the fabric.

1992 - Paul Auster - Leviathan - Whenever I stopped and examined my own behavior, I concluded that I wasn't cut out for marriage.

cut and dried

(of a situation, issue or ideas) completely settled or decided

A distinction was originally made between the cut and dried herbs sold in herbalists' shops and growing herbs.

cut and run

make a speedy or sudden departure from an awkward or hazardous situation rather than confront or deal with it - Informal

Cut and run was originally an early 18th century nautical phrase, meaning sever the anchor cable because of an emergency and I make sail immediately.

cut and thrust

a spirited and rapid interchange of views

a situation or sphere of activity regarded as carried out under adversarial conditions

In fencing, a cut is a slashing stroke and a thrust one given with the point of the weapon.

cut both ways

(of a point or statement) serve both sides of an argument

(of an action or process) have both good and bad effects

The image behind this expression is that of a double-edged weapon.

1998 - Sanjida O'Connell - Angel Bird – Words have the power to cut both ways and I was not strong enough to wield them.

cut corners

undertake something in what appears to be the easiest, quickest or cheapest way often by omitting to do something important or ignoring rules.

This phrase comes from cutting (off) the corner which means taking the shortest course by going across and not round a corner.

cut the crap

get to the point

state the real situation - vulgar slang

cut a dash

be stylish or impressive in your dress or behaviour.

As a noun, dash in the sense of showy appearance is now found only in this expression, but this sense does also survive in the adjective dashing.

cut someone dead

completely ignore someone.

cut a deal

come to an arrangement especially in business

make a deal – North American informal

Cut here relates to the informal sense of the noun cut as a share of profits.

cut someone down to size

deflate someone's exaggerated sense of self-worth - informal

cut a perfect figure

present yourself or appear in a particular way

1994 - Vanity Fair - David has cut a dashing figure on the international social scene.

cut from the same cloth

of the same nature

1999 - Washington Post - The last thing a franchise needs is for the two most important men at the top to be cut from the same cloth.

cut in line

jump the queue – US

cut it

meet the required standard – informal

1998 - Spectator - Heaven knows how such people get jobs in universities. they would not cut it on Fifteen-to-One.

cut it fine = cut things fine

allow a very small margin of something usually time

cut the Gordian knot

solve or remove a problem in a direct or forceful way rejecting gentler or more indirect methods

The knot referred to is that with which Gordius, king of ancient Phrygia (in Asia Minor), fastened the yoke of his wagon to the pole. Its complexity was such that it gave rise to the legend that whoever could undo it would become the ruler of Asia. When Alexander the Great passed that way en route to conquer the East he is said simply to have severed the knot with his sword.

cut it out

used to ask someone to stop doing or saying something that is annoying or offensive – informal

cut loose

distance yourself from a person, group or system by which you are unduly influenced or on which you are over dependent

begin to act without restraint – informal

1993 - Isidore Okpewho - Tides - When the time comes that I feel my friends are not sufficiently behind me in what I'm trying to do, I'm going to cut loose from them.

cut your losses

abandon an enterprise or course of action that is clearly going to be unprofitable or unsuccessful before you suffer too much loss or harm.

The sense of cut here is probably sever yourself from rather than reduce in size.

1991 - Jane Smiley - A Thousand Acres - Ginny is eternally hopeful, you know. She never cuts her losses. She always thinks things could change.

cut the mustard

come up to expectations

meet the required standard – informal

Mustard appears in early 20th-century US slang with the general meaning of the best of anything.

1998 - New Scientist - But if you want to go beyond this into hypersonic flight... they just don't cut the mustard.

cut no ice

have no influence or effect – informal

1973 - Joyce Porter - It's Murder with Dover MacGregor remembered that logical argument didn't cut much ice with Dover and he abandoned it.

cut someone off in their prime = cut someone down in their prime

bring someone's life or career to an abrupt end while they are at the peak of their abilities.

the cut of his jib

the appearance or look of a person

This was originally a nautical expression suggested by the prominence and characteristic form of the jib (a triangular sail set forward of the foremast) as the identifying characteristic of a ship.

cut a rug = cut the rug

dance, typically in an energetic or accomplished way – North American informal

1966 - Sky Magazine - The wide-open spaces around the bar mean, as it fills up, the place soon resembles a club and the punters are itching to cut a rug.

cut someone some slack

allow someone some leeway

make allowances for someone's behaviour - North American informal

1998 - Times - Most, though, are willing to cut Spielberg some slack for the sake of cinematic interpretation.

cut your teeth

acquire initial practice or experience of a particular sphere of activity or with a particular organization.

The form cut your eye teeth is also found. The image is that of the emergence of a baby's teeth from its gums.

cut to the chase

come to the point – North American informal

In this idiom, CUT is being used in the cinematographic sense move to another shot in a film. Chase scenes are a particularly exciting feature of some films and the idiom expresses the idea of ignoring any preliminaries and coming immediately to the most important part.

cut up rough

behave in an aggressive, quarrelsome or awkward way - British informal

Cut up is here being used in the sense of behave. The phrase cut up rough is used by Dickens and the variant cut up savage (now no longer in use) by Thackeray.

1998 - Spectator - The jury, knowing full well that Clodius' supporters could cut up rough, asked for and received state protection.

cut your coat according to your cloth

undertake only what you have the money or ability to do and no more – proverb

have your work cut out

be faced with a hard task

make the cut = miss the cut

come up to (or fail to come up to) a required standard

In golf, a player has to equal or better a particular score in order to avoid elimination from the last two rounds of a four-round tournament. If the player succeeds, they make the cut.

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