Cut me some slack
Posted: 05 May 2007 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

I’m puzzled by this expression.  I can see the imagery behind “give me some slack”: a tethered animal is given greater freedom by slackening off the tether, but why “cut”?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1253
Joined  2007-03-21

Why “cut” in “cut up” or “cut the mustard” or “that doesn’t cut it” or “cut a rug” or “cuts a fine figure”?

Just idiomatic I think.

[ Edited: 05 May 2007 04:58 PM by Oecolampadius ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

I agree it doesn’t make sense. It may have to do wth the sense of ‘cut’ as in divide off; one says ‘cut me some cake’ (but don’t cut the cheese) for example. I remember a guy who used ‘cutting’ for shoveling sand or dirt. A little more logical than for ‘slack’. It’s possible that it was common to say ‘cut me some rope’ as an informal way of ‘give me some more’. Good question.

[ Edited: 05 May 2007 04:57 PM by foolscap ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  115
Joined  2007-02-24

I agree with Foolscap. “Cut” in ‘cut me some cake’ can also mean ‘give me some cake’. You want a little slack? I’ll cut a piece of that slack for you.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1253
Joined  2007-03-21

(but don’t cut the cheese)

that one makes sense viz the original meaning of the verb “to cut.” To cut the cheese is to introduce a freshly opened wound in the cheese so that the smell can overtake the room.
Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

Is there a saying “cut me some rope” that predates “cut me some slack” and means the same thing?

BTW how do you eat cheese without cutting it?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 May 2007 09:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2296
Joined  2007-01-30

There is “cut me a break” but I can’t find that in OED to ascertain whether it’s older.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 May 2007 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

BTW how do you eat cheese without cutting it?

“Cut the cheese”

I’m almost sorry you asked. It must be an americanism. Without actually going into detail, let me give a couple of examples. Back in the 70s there was a rather hilariously named organic food brand, “Gathering Winds”, that sold among other things sauerkraut and chile beans. (True story) Then of course there’s a famous housing development near where I live. It’s in a former industrial area overlooking the slough where the factories used to dump their effluent. (One of the companies was an oil refinery founded by Mr. Passe, the Passe Gas Company. “We pass the gas to you” was their motto.) To take homeowners’ minds off the smell and to spruce up the image they wanted a somewhat romantic name and came up with “The Breakwinds”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 May 2007 01:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

Ah, I get it now!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 May 2007 02:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

It’s an oldie. You can hear it very briefly in American Graffiti when the Richard Dreyfuss character gets into the car with the Pharaos gang.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 May 2007 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2776
Joined  2007-01-31

Previous discussion: cut me some slack.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 May 2007 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

And another.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 May 2007 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

FTR, the person I referred to as using “cut” for shovelling was African American. He was memorable; much like John Henry he could swing a 6 or 8 pound sledge hammer to drive stakes with one hand, at the long end of the handle.

[ Edited: 07 May 2007 01:15 AM by foolscap ]
Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Spunk      enormity ››