To renounce acquaintance. There are four sorts of cut—(1) The cut direct is to stare an acquaintance in the face and pretend not to know him. (2) The cut indirect, to look another way, and pretend not to see him.

(3) The cut sublime, to admire the top of some tall edifice or the clouds of heaven till the person cut has

passed by. (4) The cut infernal, to stoop and adjust your boots till the party has gone past. There is a very remarkable Scripture illustration of the word cut, meaning to renounce: “Jehovah took a staff and cut it asunder, in token that He would break His covenant with His people; and He cut another staff asunder, in token that He would break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel” (Zech. xi, 7-14).


Cut and come again. Take a cut from the joint, and come for another if you like. To cut the ground from under one (or from under his feet). To leave an adversary no ground to stand on, by disproving all his arguments.

He has cut his eye-teeth.
He is wide awake, he is a knowing one. The eye-teeth are the canine teeth, just under the eyes, and the phrase means he can bite as well as bark. Of course, the play is on the word “eye,” and those who have cut their eye-teeth are wide awake.

Cut your wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are those at the extreme end of the jaws, which do not make their appearance till persons have come to years of discretion. When persons say or do silly things, the remark is made to them that “they have not yet cut their wisdom teeth,” or “reached the years of discretion.”

Cut the knot.
Break through an obstacle. The reference is to the Gordian knot (q.v.) shown to Alexander, with the assurance that whoever loosed it would be made ruler of all Asia, whereupon the Macedonian cut it in two with his sword, and claimed to have fulfilled the prophecy.

I must cut my stick—i.e.
leave. The Irish usually cut a shillelah before they start on an expedition. Punch gives the following witty derivation:— “Pilgrims on leaving the Holy Land used to cut a palm-stick, to prove that they had really been to the Holy Sepulchre. So brother Francis would say to brother Paul, `Where is brother Benedict?' `Oh (says Paul), he has cut his stick!' —i.e. he is on his way home.”

I'll cut your comb for you.
Take your conceit down. The allusion is to the practice of cutting the combs of capons.

He'll cut up well.
He is rich, and his property will cut into good slices.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894

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