Meaning of CUT in English


I. cut 1 S1 W1 /kʌt/ BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle cut , present participle cutting )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ cut , ↑ cutting , ↑ cutter ; verb : ↑ cut , ↑ undercut ; adjective : ↑ cutting ]

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

1 . REDUCE [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.

Seven hundred 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) .

2 . 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

3 . 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.

4 . 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.

5 . 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.

6 . INJURE [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.

7 . 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.

8 . 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.

9 . TOOL/MATERIAL [intransitive] if a tool cuts well, badly etc, it cuts things well or badly etc:

professional quality tools that cut efficiently and smoothly

10 . CLOTHES [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.

11 . 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) .

12 . 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.

13 . 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.

14 . PLAYING CARDS [intransitive and transitive] to divide a pack of cards into two:

First cut the pack, and then deal the cards

15 . MUSIC [transitive] to produce a ↑ CD , song etc for people to buy:

The band cut their first single in 2001.

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

17 . cut a deal to make a business deal:

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

18 . 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.

19 . cut! spoken said by the ↑ director of a film to tell people to stop acting, filming etc

20 . 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

21 . cut in line American English to unfairly go in front of other people who are waiting to do something

22 . cut class/school American English informal to deliberately not go to a class that you should go to:

She started cutting classes.

23 . 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.

24 . 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.

25 . 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.

26 . cut somebody short to stop someone from finishing what they wanted to say:

I tried to explain, but he cut me short.

27 . 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.

28 . cut somebody dead to deliberately ignore someone when you meet them:

I saw Ian in town but he cut me dead.

29 . 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.

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

31 . TOOTH [transitive] if a baby cuts a tooth, the tooth starts to grow

32 . 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.

33 . cut to the chase informal to immediately start dealing with the most important part of something

34 . cut a fine/strange etc figure literary to have an impressive, strange etc appearance:

Mason cuts a battered but defiant figure.

35 . 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.

36 . (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.

37 . cut the ground from under sb’s feet to make someone or their ideas seem less impressive by having better ideas yourself or doing something before they do

38 . 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.

39 . 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.

40 . cut the (umbilical) cord to stop being too dependent on someone, especially your parents

41 . 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.

42 . DRUGS [transitive usually passive] to mix an illegal drug such as ↑ heroin with another substance

43 . cut your coat according to your cloth to spend only as much money as you can afford

44 . 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.

45 . cut it/things fine ( also 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.

46 . not cut it informal to not be good enough to do something:

Players who can’t cut it soon quit the team.

47 . 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.

48 . 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

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ nouns

▪ cut costs (=reduce the amount you spend running a business, a home etc)

They cut costs by getting rid of staff.

▪ cut prices

Shops have been forced to cut their prices after very slow sales.

▪ cut taxes/rates

The government is expected to cut interest rates next month.

▪ cut spending/borrowing

In the 1990s, governments worldwide cut military spending.

▪ cut jobs

The bank announced that it was cutting 500 jobs.

▪ cut crime

Cameras have helped to cut crime in the town centre.

■ adverbs

▪ sharply/severely/drastically (=cut a lot)

Housing benefit was sharply cut for all but the poorest people.

■ phrases

▪ cut something to the bone (=reduce it to the lowest level possible)

Funding for art and music in schools has been cut to the bone.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ phrases

▪ cut somebody a piece/slice of something

Shall I cut you a slice of cake?

▪ cut something in half/two (=into two pieces)

Cut the tomatoes in half.

▪ cut something into pieces/slices/chunks etc

Next cut the carrots into thin slices.

▪ cut something to size/length (=so that it is the size/length you need)

The place where I bought the wood cut it to size for me.

■ adverbs

▪ cut something open

Cut open the avocado and remove the stone.

▪ cut something lengthways (=cut it in the direction that is longest)

First cut the fish in half lengthways.

▪ cut something cleanly (=with no uneven edges)

Branches should be cut cleanly from the tree.

• • •


▪ cut to divide something into two or more pieces, especially using a knife or ↑ scissors :

Do you want me to cut the cake?


He cut off the lower branches.

▪ snip to quickly cut something, especially using ↑ scissors :

I snipped the label off.


The hairdresser snipped away at her hair.

▪ slit to make a long narrow cut through something, especially using a knife:

He slit the envelope open with a penknife.


She slit through the plastic covering.

▪ slash to cut something quickly and violently with a knife, making a long thin cut:

Someone had slashed the tyres on his car.


He tried to slash his wrists.

▪ saw to cut wood, using a ↑ saw (=a tool with a row of sharp points) :

Saw the wood to the correct length.

▪ chop to cut wood, vegetables, or meat into pieces:

Bill was outside chopping up firewood with an axe.


They chopped down the old tree.


finely chopped onion

▪ slice to cut bread, meat, or vegetables into thin pieces:

I’ll slice the cucumber.


Slice the bread thinly.

▪ dice to cut vegetables or meat into small square pieces:

First dice the apple into cubes.

▪ grate to cut cheese or a hard vegetable by rubbing it against a special tool:

Grate the cheese and sprinkle it over the vegetables.

▪ peel to cut the outside part off something such as a potato or apple:

I peeled the potatoes and put them in a saucepan.

▪ carve to cut thin pieces from a large piece of meat:

Uncle Ray carved the turkey.

▪ mow to cut the grass in a garden, park etc:

A gardener was mowing the lawn.

▪ trim ( also clip ) to cut a small amount off something, especially to make it look neater:

He was trimming his beard.


Trim the excess fat off the meat.

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.

⇨ ↑ cutback

2 . cut something ↔ back 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

1 . REDUCE 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.

2 . 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.

3 . TREE cut something ↔ down to cut through the main part of a tree so that it falls on the ground

4 . KILL cut somebody ↔ down literary to kill or injure someone, especially in a battle:

Hundreds of men were cut down by crossbow fire.

5 . 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.

6 . 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

1 . INTERRUPT 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.

2 . DRIVING 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.

3 . MACHINE if a part of a machine cuts in, it starts to operate when it is needed:

The safety device cuts in automatically.

4 . 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

1 . SEPARATE 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.

2 . 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.

3 . get cut off 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.

4 . 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.

5 . 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.

6 . INTERRUPT to interrupt someone and stop them from finishing what they were saying:

Emma cut him off in mid-sentence.

7 . 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.

8 . MONEY/PROPERTY 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.

9 . DRIVING 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.

10 . 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

1 . 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.

2 . 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.

3 . 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.

4 . 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.

5 . 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.

6 . 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.

7 . 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.

8 . 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?

9 . ENGINE if an engine or machine cuts out, it suddenly stops working:

The engine cut out halfway across the lake.

10 . LIGHT/VIEW 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.

11 . cut somebody out 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 ↑ work 2 (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

1 . 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.

2 . DRIVING 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.

3 . BEHAVE BADLY American English informal to behave in a noisy or rude way

4 . 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.

5 . CRITICIZE cut somebody ↔ up informal to criticize someone in an unpleasant way

⇨ ↑ cut up

II. cut 2 S2 W2 BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ cut , ↑ cutting , ↑ cutter ; verb : ↑ cut , ↑ undercut ; adjective : ↑ cutting ]

1 . REDUCTION [usually plural] a reduction in the size or amount of something, especially the amount of money that is spent by a government or company:

There will be cuts across all levels of the company.

cut in

Cuts in public spending mean that fewer people can go on to higher education.

The decision to make cuts in health care provision has been widely criticized.

tax/pay/job etc cuts

A shorter working week will mean pay cuts for millions of workers.

The building plans could be hit by possible spending cuts.

cut of

A cut of 1% in interest rates was announced yesterday.

2 . SKIN WOUND a wound that is caused when something sharp cuts your skin:

That’s quite a nasty cut – you ought to get it seen to by a doctor.

The driver escaped with minor cuts and bruises.

3 . HOLE/MARK a narrow hole or mark in the surface of something, made by a sharp tool or object:

Make a small cut in the paper.

4 . HAIR [usually singular]

a) an act of cutting someone’s hair SYN haircut :

How much do they charge for a cut and blow-dry?

b) the style in which your hair is cut SYN haircut :

a short stylish cut

5 . CLOTHES [usually singular] the style in which clothes have been made:

I could tell by the cut of his suit that he wasn’t a poor man.

6 . SHARE OF SOMETHING [usually singular] someone’s share of something, especially money

cut of

She was determined to claim her cut of the winnings.

7 . REMOVAL FROM FILM an act of removing a part from a film, play, piece of writing etc, or a part that has been removed

8 . FILM [usually singular] the process of putting together the different parts of a film and removing the parts that will not be shown:

Spielberg himself oversaw the final cut.

9 . MUSIC one of the songs or pieces of music on a record, ↑ cassette , or CD

10 . the cut and thrust of something the exciting but sometimes difficult or unpleasant way that something is done:

the cut and thrust of political debate

11 . be a cut above somebody/something to be much better than someone else or something else:

The movie is a cut above recent thrillers.

He proved himself to be a cut above the rest.

12 . MEAT a piece of meat that has been cut to a size suitable for cooking or eating:

Long slow cooking is more suitable for cheaper cuts of meat.

13 . ROAD American English a road that has been made through a hill

⇨ ↑ cold cuts , ↑ power cut , ↑ short cut

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ make cuts

The country needs to make cuts in the carbon dioxide it produces.

▪ announce cuts

A major engineering company has announced big job cuts.

▪ take/accept cuts (=agree to have something reduced)

Some employees were forced to take pay cuts.

■ NOUN + cut

▪ tax cuts

The President announced tax cuts.

▪ pay/wage cuts

Millions of workers face pay cuts.

▪ job/staff cuts

There have been falling sales and job cuts at the newspaper.

▪ spending cuts

His proposals could involve spending cuts of up to £12 billion.

▪ price cuts

The company announced big price cuts on all its computers.

▪ defence cuts

Further proposals for defence cuts were drawn up.

■ adjectives

▪ deep/severe cuts (=big reductions)

Deep cuts were made in research spending.

▪ drastic/sharp cuts (=big and sudden reductions)

He resigned over drastic cuts in the education budget.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ have a cut on something

He had a cut on his forehead.

▪ get a cut (on something)

I fell and got a bad cut on my head.

■ adjectives

▪ small/slight

It’s only a small cut.

▪ minor

Two passengers had to be treated for minor cuts.

▪ superficial (=not deep)

I’m fine - just a few superficial cuts.

▪ bad/nasty (=wide or deep and bleeding a lot)

The cut looked quite bad.


How did you get that nasty cut?

▪ deep

She fell and got a deep cut on her leg.

■ phrases

▪ cuts and bruises (=cuts and dark marks on the skin)

He escaped the crash with just a few cuts and bruises.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.