What does the idiom "cut sb dead" mean?

The expression cut sb dead 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 cut sb dead idiom.

Meaning of "cut sb dead"


The phrase "cut sb dead" is an idiom that means to completely ignore or casually reject someone who is expecting your attention or company. It is a sign of intentional, deliberate behavior which goes beyond the simple absence of acknowledgement or politeness. People use the phrase "cut sb dead" to describe social interactions that are unforgivably rude or cold.


The phrase "cut sb dead" has its origins in the phrase "cut a person dead," which dates back to the early 1800s. The phrase likely came from a literal example of cutting someone off by walking past them without acknowledging them. Over time, the "cut sb dead" idiom has gained popularity as a way to describe a more figurative form of cutting someone off.


The phrase "cut sb dead" is most often used to describe a social situation. It is used when a person purposely ignores or rejects another person in a way that is not just a polite omission of acknowledgement. It is generally used to emphasize how rude and hurtful the behavior is. It can also be used to describe how a person feels after this type of rejection.

Example Sentences

  • The way he cut me dead in front of everyone was so degrading.
  • I don't know what I did wrong, but she totally cut me dead.
  • After the incident, she felt like he had cut her dead.
  • He didn't even give me a chance to apologize—he just cut me dead.
  • She walked away without saying a word—it was like she was trying to cut me dead.

The meanings of the words in the "cut sb dead" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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