Date: 1200-1300
Origin: From an unrecorded Old English cytan


1 verb
cut1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle cut, present participle cutting


[transitive] to reduce the amount of something:
They're introducing CCTV cameras in an attempt to cut street crime in the area.
You need to cut the amount of fat and sugar in your diet.
Scientists are warning that unless carbon emissions are cut, we could be heading for an environmental catastrophe.
700 jobs will be lost in order to cut costs and boost profits.
The major aviation companies need to cut prices if they are to compete with budget airlines.
cut something by £1 million/$5 billion/half etc
The welfare budget has been cut by $56 billion.
cut something off something
A new direct service will cut two hours off the flying time between London and Seoul.
Staffing levels had already been cut to the bone (=reduced to the lowest level possible).

divide something with a knife, scissors etc

[intransitive and transitive] to divide something or separate something from its main part, using scissors, a knife etc:
Do you want me to cut the cake?
The telephone wires had been cut minutes before the assault.
cut something with something
Jane cut the cord with a knife.
cut somebody something
Can you cut me a piece of bread, please?
cut along/across/round etc
Using a pair of scissors, cut carefully along the dotted lines.
cut through
We'll need a saw that will cut through metal.
cut something in half/in two
Cut the orange in half.
cut something into slices/chunks/pieces etc (=make something into a particular shape by cutting)
Cut the carrots into thin strips.
cut something to size/length (=cut something so that it is the size you need)
The curtain pole can be cut to length.
cut away, cut off, cut out, cut up

make something shorter with a knife etc

[transitive] to make something shorter with a knife, scissors etc, especially in order to make it neater:
For reasons of hygiene, we had to cut our fingernails really short.
cut the lawn/grass/hedge etc
From outside came the sound of someone cutting the hedge.
have/get your hair cut
It's about time you got your hair cut.

remove parts from film etc

[transitive] to remove parts from a film, book, speech etc, for example because it is too long or might offend people:
The original version was cut by more than 30 minutes.

make a hole/mark

[intransitive and transitive] to make a hole or mark in the surface of something, or to open it using a sharp tool
cut into
The blade cut deep into the wood.
cut something into something
Strange letters had been cut into the stone.
Cut a hole in the middle of the paper.
Cut open the chillies and remove the seeds.


[transitive] to injure yourself on something sharp that breaks the skin and makes you bleed
cut your finger/knee/hand etc
I noticed he'd cut his finger quite badly.
cut yourself (on something)
Marcie said she'd cut herself on a broken glass.
That knife's extremely sharp! Mind you don't cut yourself.
On Eric's chin was a scrap of cotton wool where he'd cut himself shaving.
She fell and cut her head open.

make/form something by cutting

[transitive] to make or form something from a solid piece of wood, metal etc using a sharp tool:
I'll get a spare key cut for you.
cut something from something
The chair had been cut from the trunk of a tree.

let somebody get free

[transitive] to cut something such as metal or rope in order to let someone escape from where they are trapped
cut somebody from something
She had to be cut from the wreckage of her car.
He was in the vehicle for an hour before he was cut free.


[intransitive] if a tool cuts well, badly etc, it cuts things well or badly etc:
professional quality tools that cut efficiently and smoothly


[transitive usually passive] if a piece of clothing is cut in a particular way, that is the way it is designed and made:
The T-shirt is cut fairly low at the neck.

on computer

[intransitive and transitive] to remove something from a document or file on a computer:
To cut text, press Control + C.
Cut and paste the picture into a new file (=remove it and then make it appear in a new file).

go a quick way

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to get to somewhere by a quicker and more direct way than the usual way [↪ shortcut]
cut through/down/across etc
I usually cut through the car park to get to work.
Let's cut across the field.

divide an area

[intransitive and transitive] to divide an area into two or more parts
cut something in/into something
The river cuts the whole region in two.
cut through
The new road will cut through a conservation area.

playing cards

[intransitive and transitive]DGC to divide a pack of cards into two:
First cut the pack, and then deal the cards


[transitive]APM to produce a CD, song etc for people to buy:
The band cut their first single in 2001.


[transitive] to take the top part off crops such as wheat before gathering them

cut a deal

to make a business deal:
A French company has reportedly cut a deal to produce software for government agencies.

cut (somebody) a check

American English informal to write a check for a particular amount of money and give it to someone:
When the damage assessor called, he cut a check for $139.


spoken said by the director of a film to tell people to stop acting, filming etc

put a film together

[transitive] to put the parts of a film together so that they make a continuous story, and get rid of the parts you do not want

cut in line

American English to unfairly go in front of other people who are waiting to do something

cut class/school

American English informal to deliberately not go to a class that you should go to:
She started cutting classes.

cut your teeth (on something)

to get your first experience of doing something and learn the basic skills:
Both reporters cut their journalistic teeth on the same provincial newspaper.

cut corners

to do something in a way that saves time, effort, or money, but that also results in it not being done properly:
There's a temptation to cut corners when you're pushed for time, but it's not worth it.

cut something short

to stop doing something earlier than you planned:
The band has cut short its US concert tour.
Her athletic career was cut short by a leg injury.

cut somebody short

to stop someone from finishing what they wanted to say:
I tried to explain, but he cut me short.

cut the ...

spoken an impolite way of telling someone to stop doing something because it is annoying you:
Cut the sarcasm, Jane, and tell me what really happened!
Cut the crap (=stop saying something that is not true)! I saw his car outside your house.

cut somebody dead

to deliberately ignore someone when you meet them:
I saw Ian in town but he cut me dead.

cut your losses

to stop doing something that is failing, so that you do not waste any more money, time, or effort:
He decided to cut his losses and sell the business.


[transitive]HM if a line cuts another line, they cross each other at a particular point


DHB [transitive] if a baby cuts a tooth, the tooth starts to grow

cut somebody to the quick/bone

literary to upset someone very much by saying something cruel:
His mockery frightened her and cut her to the bone.

cut to the chase

informal to immediately start dealing with the most important part of something

cut a fine/strange etc figure

literary to have an impressive, strange etc appearance:
Mason cuts a battered but defiant figure.

cut your own throat

to behave in a way that will cause harm to yourself, especially because you are very offended or angry about something:
He'd just be cutting his own throat if he left now.

(it) cuts both ways

spoken used to say that something has two effects, especially a good effect and a bad one:
The higher the interest rate, the greater the financial risk - which, of course, cuts both ways.

cut the ground from under somebody's feet

to make someone or their ideas seem less impressive by having better ideas yourself or doing something before they do

cut and run

informal to avoid a difficult situation by leaving suddenly:
Although the company has faced financial difficulties, they do not intend to cut and run.

cut no ice/not cut much ice

if something cuts no ice with someone, it will not persuade them to change their opinion or decision:
It's unlikely that these arguments will cut much ice with Democrats.

cut the (umbilical) cord

to stop being too dependent on someone, especially your parents

not cut the mustard

informal to not be good enough:
Other magazines have tried to copy the formula but have never quite cut the mustard.


[transitive usually passive]MDD to mix an illegal drug such as heroin with another substance

cut your coat according to your cloth

to spend only as much money as you can afford

to cut a long story short

spoken used to say that you are only going to mention the main facts of something:
To cut a long story short, he threw them out of the house.

cut it/things fine

cut it close American English to leave yourself just enough time to do something:
Even in normal traffic, 20 minutes to get to the airport is cutting it fine.

not cut it

informal to not be good enough to do something:
Players who can't cut it soon quit the team.

cut a swathe through something

literary to cause a lot of damage in a place or among a group of people:
A series of bribery scandals has cut a swathe through the government.

you could cut the atmosphere with a knife

informal used to say that everyone in a place is very annoyed or angry with each other and this is very easy to notice
chop to cut vegetables, meat, or wood into pieces
to cut bread, vegetables, or meat into thin pieces
to cut vegetables into small pieces
to cut the outside part off an onion, apple etc
to cut cheese or vegetables into small pieces by rubbing them against a special tool
to cut pieces from a large piece of meat
to cut wood using a special tool called a saw
chop down
to cut down a tree, using an axe
to cut something quickly using scissors
to remove hair from your face or body
to remove small parts of something to make it look neat
to cut grass
to cut off the top part of plants, in order to make them grow better
cut slit, slash, graze, gash, amputate

cut across something

phrasal verb
if a problem or feeling cuts across different groups of people, they are all affected by it:
Domestic violence seems to cut across most social divisions.

cut something ↔ away

phrasal verb
to remove unwanted or unnecessary parts from something by cutting it:
Cut away all the dead wood.

cut back

phrasal verb
1 to reduce the amount, size, cost etc of something
cut back on
Several major hospitals are cutting back on staff at the moment.
cut something ↔ back
Education spending cannot be cut back any further.
Richer countries must do more to cut back carbon emissions.

cut something ↔ back

DLG to remove the top part of a plant in order to help it to grow:
Cut back the shoots in spring to encourage bushier growth.
3 to eat, drink, or use less of something, especially in order to improve your health
cut back on
Try to cut back on foods containing wheat and dairy products.

cut down

phrasal verb


to reduce the amount of something
cut something ↔ down
Installing double-glazing will cut down the noise from traffic.
cut down on
By getting the design right, you can cut down on accidents.

eat/use less

to eat, drink, or use less of something, especially in order to improve your health:
I've always smoked, but I'm trying to cut down.
cut down on
Cut down on fatty foods if you want to lose weight.


cut something ↔ down

to cut through the main part of a tree so that it falls on the ground


cut somebody ↔ down

literary to kill or injure someone, especially in a battle:
Hundreds of men were cut down by crossbow fire.

reduce length

cut something ↔ down

to reduce the length of something such as a piece of writing:
Your essay's too long - it needs cutting down a little.

cut somebody down to size

to make someone realize that they are not as important, successful etc as they think they are

cut in

phrasal verb


to interrupt someone who is speaking by saying something:
'What shall I do?' Patrick cut in again.
cut in on
Sorry to cut in on you, but there are one or two things I don't understand.


to suddenly drive in front of a moving car in a dangerous way
cut in on
She cut in on a red Ford, forcing the driver to brake heavily.


if a part of a machine cuts in, it starts to operate when it is needed:
The safety device cuts in automatically.

include somebody

cut somebody in

informal to allow someone to take part in a plan or to make money from it
cut somebody in on
Come on, Joey, you promised to cut me in on this one!

cut somebody/something off

phrasal verb


cut something ↔ off

to separate something by cutting it away from the main part:
One of his fingers was cut off in the accident.
cut something off something
Cut the fat off the meat.

stop supply

cut something ↔ off

to stop the supply of something such as electricity, gas, water etc:
The gas had been cut off.
The US has threatened to cut off economic and military aid.

get cut off

TCT to suddenly not be able to hear someone that you were speaking to on the telephone:
I don't know what happened - we just got cut off.

be cut off

a) if a place is cut off, people cannot leave it or reach it:
In winter, the town is often cut off by snow.
b) to be a long way from other places and be difficult to get to:
Accessible only by air, the town is cut off from the rest of the country.
c) if someone is cut off, they are lonely and not able to meet many other people:
Many older people feel cut off and isolated.

stop being friendly

cut somebody ↔ off

to stop having a friendly relationship with someone:
Julia had been completely cut off by all her family and friends.
cut yourself off (from somebody)
After his wife died, he cut himself off completely from the rest of the world.


to interrupt someone and stop them from finishing what they were saying:
Emma cut him off in mid-sentence.

prevent something

cut somebody off from something

to prevent someone from having something that they need or want:
The project aims to ensure that poorer people are not cut off from the benefits of computer technology.


to refuse to let someone receive your money or property, especially when you die:
My parents threatened to cut me off without a penny if I married him.


cut somebody ↔ off

American English to suddenly drive in front of a moving car in a dangerous way:
A man in a station wagon cut me off on the freeway.

cut off your nose to spite your face

to do something because you are angry, even though it will harm you

cut out

phrasal verb

remove something

cut something ↔ out

to remove something by cutting round it:
The cancerous cells had to be cut out.
cut something ↔ out of
Billy showed me the article he'd cut out of the magazine

cut a shape

cut something ↔ out

to cut a shape from a piece of paper, cloth etc:
The children were cutting out squares from the scraps of material.

stop something happening

cut something ↔ out

to stop something from happening or existing:
The idea behind these forms is to cut out fraud.
A catalytic converter will cut out 90% of carbon monoxide emissions.

stop doing/eating something

cut something ↔ out

to stop doing or eating something, especially because it might be bad for your health:
The current advice to pregnant women is to cut out alcohol.

from writing

cut something ↔ out

to remove something from a piece of writing, especially because it might offend people:
Cut out the bit about racial prejudice.

cut it/that out

spoken used to tell someone to stop doing something because it is annoying you:
Hey, you guys, cut it out - Mom's trying to get some sleep.

not involve somebody

cut somebody ↔ out

to stop someone from doing something or being involved in something:
The new rules will cut out 25% of people who were previously eligible to vote.

be cut out for something

also be cut out to be something [usually in questions and negatives] to have the qualities that you need for a particular job or activity:
In the end, I decided I wasn't cut out for the army.
Are you sure you're really cut out to be a teacher?


if an engine or machine cuts out, it suddenly stops working:
The engine cut out halfway across the lake.


cut something ↔ out

to prevent light, sound etc from reaching somewhere:
You'll need sunglasses that will cut out harmful UV rays from the sun.

cut somebody out

SCL to prevent someone from getting something, especially your money after your death:
Em's father decided to cut her out of his will.

➔ have your work cut out

at work2 (15)

➔ cut out the middleman

at middleman

cut through something

phrasal verb
1 written to move or pass easily through water or air:
The boat cut effortlessly through the water.
2 to quickly and easily deal with something that is confusing or difficult:
You need someone to help you cut through all the irritating legal jargon.
3 literary if a sound cuts through silence or noise, it is heard because it is loud:
A piercing shriek cut through the silence.

cut up

phrasal verb

cut into pieces

cut something ↔ up

to cut something into small pieces:
Could you cut the pizza up, please?
cut something ↔ up into
He cut the paper up into little pieces.


cut somebody/something ↔ up

British English to suddenly drive in front of a moving vehicle in a dangerous way:
Some idiot cut me up on the motorway.

behave badly

American English informal to behave in a noisy or rude way

cut up rough

British English informal to react in an angry or violent way:
Careful how you approach him - he can cut up a bit rough if he's got a mind to.


cut somebody ↔ up

informal to criticize someone in an unpleasant way

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