What does the idiom "cut sb to the quick" mean?

Are you using the idiom cut sb to the quick but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the cut sb to the quick idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "cut sb to the quick"


The idiom “cut sb to the quick” is used to describe someone’s feelings being deeply and unexpectedly hurt by a comment or action. This phrase is used to emphasize how emotional or physical pain was caused. The saying implies that the person or comment went beyond the emotional skin that is often associated with pain, and cut all the way to the raw nerve beneath the surface.


The origin of the term “cut sb to the quick” is unclear. It is thought that the phrase has been used in various forms since at least the 16th century. The phrase can be traced back to the Middle English phrase “kutte to the quicke”, which means to be pierced or stabbed in the heart. This phrase was often used figuratively to describe intense feeling such as sorrow or anger. The phrase has become more commonly used in the modern era, particularly in the United States.


The phrase “cut sb to the quick” is typically used to express the intense feeling of being deeply hurt by someone or something. It is often used in a figurative sense to express emotional pain. This phrase can be used in a variety of contexts, including in discussion of personal relationships, professional relationships or when discussing a particularly upsetting experience. It is also used to describe how one’s feelings were unexpectedly hurt by a comment or action.

Example Sentences

  • His comment cut me to the quick.
  • Her words cut him to the quick and he was left speechless.
  • His betrayal cut me to the quick and shattered my trust.
  • She felt her heart cut to the quick by his cold words.

The meanings of the words in the "cut sb to the quick" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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