What does the idiom "Cutting corners" mean?

The expression Cutting corners 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 Cutting corners idiom.

Meaning of "Cutting corners"


The term "cutting corners" means to take shortcuts or cheat in order to save time or money, usually in a way that detracts from the quality or integrity of the final product. It is used to refer to shortcuts that are not necessarily illegal, but are morally questionable.


The phrase is believed to have originated in the United States during the 19th century. Its exact origin is unknown, but it is likely derived from the architectural term "cutting a corner" which referred to a method used to create a curve when constructing an archway. The phrase is used in a much broader sense today, and is used to refer to anyone who takes shortcuts in order to gain an advantage while sacrificing quality.


The phrase "cutting corners" is commonly used in everyday conversations to refer to any method of taking shortcuts, or any shortcut itself. It can be used in either a positive or negative context depending on the context. It can be used to refer to taking a shortcut in a project in order to save time, or it can be used to refer to someone cheating in order to get ahead. It is also often seen in political discussions, when referring to a policy that sacrifices quality in order to save money.

Example Sentences

  • "John is always cutting corners when it comes to his projects - he never takes the time to do things properly."
  • "The company's policy on safety is so lax - they are cutting corners every chance they get."
  • "I don't want to cut corners, but if I can get the project done in half the time by taking a few shortcuts, then I'm going to do it."

The meanings of the words in the "Cutting corners" 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.


No comment has been written about Cutting corners yet, you can write the first comment and share your thoughts with our other visitors.
Leave a Reply