Understanding the Idiom: "cut out" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

The Literal Meaning

The most basic definition of “cut out” is to remove something by cutting it with a sharp object like scissors or a knife. For example, if you were making a craft project, you might need to cut out certain shapes from paper or fabric. This literal meaning of “cut out” is straightforward and easy to understand.

The Figurative Meanings

In addition to its literal meaning, “cut out” can also be used figuratively in various contexts. For instance, if someone says they need to cut out sugar from their diet, they mean they want to stop consuming sugary foods altogether. Similarly, if someone tells you to cut it out when you’re behaving badly or annoying them, they’re telling you to stop doing whatever it is that’s bothering them.

Another way “cut out” can be used figuratively is when referring to something that has been removed or eliminated from a situation. For example, if there was originally a group of people working on a project but one person dropped out for some reason, you could say that person was cut out of the project.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “cut out”

The idiom “cut out” has a rich history that dates back centuries. Its origins can be traced to various fields, including woodworking, printing, and sewing. Over time, the phrase evolved to take on new meanings and uses in everyday language.

In woodworking, “cutting out” referred to the process of removing excess material from a piece of wood to create a specific shape or design. This term was later adopted by printers who used it to describe the process of cutting individual pages from a larger sheet of paper. Similarly, in sewing, “cutting out” referred to cutting fabric into pattern pieces before assembling them into a garment.

As the idiom entered common usage in English language, its meaning expanded beyond these technical contexts. Today we use “cut out” as an expression meaning to stop doing something abruptly or completely. For example: “I need to cut out eating junk food if I want to lose weight.” It can also mean removing someone or something from a situation entirely: “The noisy children were cut out of the wedding ceremony.”

Woodworking Printing Sewing
Cutting excess material from wood Cutting individual pages from paper Cutting fabric into pattern pieces

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “cut out”

When it comes to the idiom “cut out,” there are various ways in which it can be used. This phrase is often used to describe a sudden stop or interruption of something, such as an activity or conversation. However, there are also other variations of this idiom that have different meanings.

One common variation is “cut someone out.” This means to exclude or remove someone from a situation or group. For example, if you were planning a surprise party for your friend but didn’t want them to know about it, you might say “Let’s cut him out of the planning process.”

Another variation is “cut it out,” which is often used as an expression of annoyance or frustration when someone is doing something annoying or inappropriate. For instance, if your sibling was tapping their foot loudly while you were trying to study, you might say “Cut it out!”

In addition to these variations, there are also idioms that use the word “cut” in different ways. For example, “cut corners” means to take shortcuts in order to save time or money. On the other hand, “cut slack” means to give someone a break or show leniency towards them.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “cut out”

The use of idioms in language is often influenced by cultural factors. In some cultures, certain idioms may have different meanings or connotations than they do in others. For example, in American culture, the phrase “cut it out” is often used playfully between friends to tell someone to stop doing something annoying or silly. However, in British culture, this same phrase could be seen as more aggressive and confrontational.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “cut out”

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blank

In this exercise, we will provide you with a sentence that is missing the idiom “cut out”. Your task is to fill in the blank with the correct form of “cut out”.

Example: I’m sorry, but I have to _______ early today.

Answer: cut out

1. If you keep eating junk food like that, your doctor might tell you to _______ it _______.

2. The power suddenly _______ while we were watching TV last night.

3. Can you please _______ me a piece of paper so I can write down this phone number?

4. My friend always tries to _______ me when I start talking about politics.

Exercise 2: Choose the Correct Meaning

In this exercise, we will provide you with multiple meanings for “cut out”. Your task is to choose the correct meaning based on context.

Example: She had to cut out sugar from her diet because she was diabetic.

Meaning: Eliminate or remove something

1. The teacher told us to cut it out when we were making too much noise in class.


a) To stop doing something annoying

b) To physically remove something

2. We had to cut our vacation short because my daughter got sick.


a) To end something prematurely

b) To physically cut something into pieces

3. He decided to cut his losses and sell his failing business.


a) To stop investing in something that is not profitable

b) To physically cut something into pieces

4. The athlete had to cut out junk food and start eating healthier.


a) Eliminate or remove something

b) To physically cut something into pieces

Exercise 3: Create Your Own Sentences

In this exercise, you will create your own sentences using the idiom “cut out”. Try to use different forms of the idiom and be creative with your examples.

Example: I need to cut out caffeine because it makes me too jittery.

1. My boss told me to cut it out when I kept interrupting her during our meeting.

2. We had to cut the cake out of the pan very carefully so it wouldn’t fall apart.

3. I’m going to have to cut my vacation short because of a family emergency back home.

4. Can you please cut me some slack? I’ve been working really hard lately.

By practicing these exercises, you will become more comfortable using “cut out” in everyday conversation. Keep practicing and soon enough, you’ll be able to use this common phrase like a native speaker!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “cut out”

When using idioms, it’s important to understand their meaning and usage in context. The idiom “cut out” is no exception. However, even when you know what the idiom means, there are still some common mistakes that people make when using it.

  • Mistake #1: Using “cut off” instead of “cut out”. While these two idioms may seem similar, they have different meanings. “Cut off” refers to completely stopping something or someone, while “cut out” means to remove or eliminate something gradually.
  • Mistake #2: Using “cut out” incorrectly in a sentence. For example: “I need to cut out smoking.” This sentence implies that the speaker needs to physically remove smoking from their life, which doesn’t make sense. Instead, it should be phrased as: “I need to cut down on smoking.”
  • Mistake #3: Overusing the idiom in conversation. While idioms can add color and personality to your speech, overusing them can become repetitive and annoying for listeners.
  • Mistake #4: Misunderstanding cultural differences with the idiom. In some cultures or regions, certain idioms may not be commonly used or have a different connotation than intended.

To avoid these common mistakes when using the idiom “cut out”, it’s important to practice using it correctly in context and being aware of any cultural differences that may affect its usage.

Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: