Cut left/right!

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Bunch Son

Korean - South Korea
Why do native speakers say "Cut left/right when they mean to ask drivers to turn left/right?
Does the word 'cut' have the same meaning as 'turn' as a slang?
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Not usually. Cut (off) has a specific meaning, either take a short-cut or leave the rest of your group. E.g:

    "You don't need to follow the main road, you can cut off to the left and take the old road; it's steeper but it's a mile shorter."
    "Three of the soldiers cut (off) across the fields, hoping to create a distraction."


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I don't know 'cut' for 'turn'. Its use in driving (or travelling generally) is to mean "take a shorter route", so you cut a corner when you go diagonally across it instead of turning in a right angle. That's related to turning. You can also cut across something (like a field) or across someone (getting in front of them), or cut past or through.

    cross-posted and beaten to the cut


    Senior Member
    English - England
    To cut = to make or perform, or do. It seems that this use is now mainly AE.

    The OED gives:
    25. To perform or execute (an action, gesture, or display of a grotesque, striking, or notable kind): chiefly in certain established phrases, as to cut a caper b, to cut a dash to cut a figure, to cut a joke, to cut a voluntary. Also, to cut an antic, to cut a curvet, to cut a flourish; to cut faces, to make grimaces, distort the features.

    a1616 W. Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) i. iii. 116 And. Faith, I can cut a caper. To. And I can cut the Mutton too't. View more context for this quotation
    1811 W. Irving Life & Lett. (1864) I. xvii. 262 I cut one of my best opera flourishes.
    1830 Fraser's Mag. 1 457 [They] cut a curvet in the air.
    1835 W. Irving Tour on Prairies xxii Two of us..saw a fellow..cutting queer antics.

    The grey denotes uses that no longer are generally used or implied.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Why do native speakers say "Cut left/right when they mean to ask drivers to turn left/right?
    Does the word 'cut' have the same meaning as 'turn' as a slang?
    Maybe it's AE. I've never heard it used this way.
    It is used frequently in AE this way in discussing sports, especially American football (not the game played with the feet, which is "soccer" here). Part of this game involves one player (usually the one playing the quarterback position) throwing the ball to another, called the receiver. The defending team tries to prevent the receiver from catching the ball. The receiver will often run toward the goal line and then, by prior arrangement with the quarterback, turn sharply to the left or right at a specific place on the field. The intent is to deceive the defense and catch the ball before defenders have a chance to follow his turn. People say that the receiver cuts to the left or the right.

    If the native speaker that Bunch Son is asking about are from the U.S., that is exactly what is meant by "cut": to turn, often sharply.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I wouldn't call it common anywhere I've lived. It's not a standard substitute for the word turn, as in turn a corner, especially in a car. It seems to me, as in Egmont's example, if it's used it's usually in a situation like walking where it means more like "angle to the right". Say you were walking across a field and someone was directing you towards something. They might tell you to cut to the right.

    I think I might have a vague recollection of hearing "cut right" used that way somewhere among African English speakers.
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