What does the idiom "at the cutting edge" mean?

The expression at the cutting edge is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the at the cutting edge idiom.

Meaning of "at the cutting edge"


The phrase ‘at the cutting edge’ is used to describe a person, product, or organization that has the latest and most advanced tools, skills, or knowledge in their field. It suggests that this person or organization is at the forefront of innovation and is the first to experience the newest technologies, methods, or ideas. The phrase implies a sense of excitement, power, and potential.


The phrase ‘at the cutting edge’ first appeared in print in the early 1900s, but its origin is unknown. It was likely inspired by the physical act of cutting with a sharp edge, as this is often associated with progress, creativity, and advancement. It could also be related to the process of ‘cutting’, or editing, film or audio recordings, as this process is used to create the latest and most advanced media.


The phrase ‘at the cutting edge’ is often used to describe individuals or companies that are making progress in their field. It can be used in a variety of contexts, such as business, science, technology, entertainment, and more. For example, a company may refer to itself as ‘at the cutting edge of innovation’ if it has strong research and development teams and is releasing new products ahead of its competitors. Similarly, an individual may be described as ‘at the cutting edge of scientific research’ if they are leading the way in a particular area of study.

Example Sentences

  • His work in quantum physics has put him at the cutting edge of the field.
  • We strive to be at the cutting edge of technology.
  • Their products are always at the cutting edge of innovation.
  • Her research is at the cutting edge of medical science.

The meanings of the words in the "at the cutting edge" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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