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10 English Expressions with the Word CUT

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Everyday English Speaking Course

#1 – a cut above

If something is a cut above something else, it means it is better or superior. We usually use this expression to compare two things that are of the same type (two books, two programs, two products of different brands).

The director’s second film was definitely a cut above his first.

#2 – cut corners

To cut corners means to save money or effort by finding a cheaper or easier way to do something… but a way which might be dishonest or result in lower quality.

You shouldn’t cut corners when it comes to building a house – you don’t want to risk the roof collapsing or something like that!

"I shouldn't have cut corners when building my house!" (Image credit:  AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Patricia Beck)
“I shouldn’t have cut corners when building my house!” (Image credit: AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Patricia Beck)

#3 – cut class

If a student cuts class, he or she decides not to go to class (when they are supposed to be in class).

On Friday afternoon, the teenagers cut class and went to a movie instead.

#4 – Cut it out!

If you tell someone, “Cut it out!” you are telling them to stop doing something (especially when they are doing something annoying).

The kids were fighting and I told them to cut it out.

"Cut it out!" (Image source)
“Cut it out!” (Image source)

#5 – cut a deal

Cut a deal is an informal way to say “make an agreement,” especially in business or politics.

We managed to cut a deal with a new manufacturer and saved 20% on our products.

#6 – cut one’s losses

Let’s say you’ve been investing some time, effort, and/or money in a project or activity that is failing. You should cut your losses (stop doing the project/activity) in order to not waste any more resources.

After three months of classes, I wasn’t making any progress, so I decided to cut my losses. 

#7 – not cut out for

If you are not cut out for something (like an activity or a profession), it means you are not the right type of person to do it.

My parents wanted me to be an engineer, but I just wasn’t cut out for it – I’m terrible at math; I prefer the arts.

"I'm just not cut out for engineering!" (Image source)
“I’m just not cut out for engineering!” (Image source)

#8 – cut someone some slack

To cut someone some slack means to treat them less strictly than usual, or to allow them a bit of additional freedom.

The boss wanted this project done yesterday, but it was a ton of work and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it all. Luckily she cut me some slack and extended the deadline.

#9 – cut to the chase

The expression cut to the chase means to get directly to the point, the important part, in a discussion – without wasting time on things that aren’t important.

Let’s cut to the chase – we don’t have time to talk about all that other stuff.

#10 – have (got) your work cut out for you

If you have (got) your work cut out for you, it means you have a difficult task to do.

The house is a mess, and we have to clean it before the dinner party at 7. We’ve got our work cut out for us!

"We have to clean the house... we've got our work cut out for us!" (Image source)
“We have to clean the house… we’ve got our work cut out for us!” (Image source)

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