an atmosphere that you could cut with a knife
a general feeling of great tension or malevolence
RELATED IDIOMS :
a cut above
superior to – informal
1998 - Spectator - Samuel was a scholar and his contributions are a cut above the rest.
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A distinction was originally made between the cut and dried herbs sold in herbalists' shops and growing herbs.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.
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
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
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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