The meaning of “cut to the chase” is to get directly to the point, leaving out all of the unnecessary details.
Example: I know you are busy and can’t talk right now, so I’ll cut to the chase—there’s a problem with our car. But don’t worry, I’ll have it repaired in no time.
The Origin Of ‘Cut To The Chase’
What is the origin of the phrase ‘cut to the chase’? It’s believed that this expression comes from silent films of the 1920s. Silent films, as the name implies, do not have any sound or spoken dialogue; they’re silent! The acting was done with facial expressions and gestures. Often times, these films told of romantic stories that would eventually climax into a chasing sequence.
According to The Phrase Finder, this phrase was written in Joseph Patrick Mcevoy’s novel Hollywood Girl, 1929, as a script direction:
“Jannings escapes… Cut to chase.”
So it looks like this phrase started out simply as a term used in scripts. It referred to the time that the movie would switch to the chasing sequence. Some people may have considered the chasing scene to be the main part of the movie. Perhaps that is how it eventually developed its figurative meaning, because people use it today to mean “just get to the main part already.”
Anyways, the earliest I could find this expression used outside the context of film chasing sequence, with its idiomatic meaning of “getting directly to the point,” is during the 1940s. This example comes from The Berkshire Evening Eagle newspaper, 1947:
“Let’s cut to the chase. There will be no tax relief this year.”
So with all that said, it looks like this phrase has only existed as an idiom for less than 100 years.
Example Sentences For ‘Cut To The Chase’
- Sometimes when my friends tell me stories, they go on and on and I wish they would just cut to the chase.
- When I know people have things to do, I try cutting to the chase because I respect their time.
Note: The citations you see on the phrase’s page are typically the earliest known appearance that I could find. These quotes can give you can idea for how old a particular expression is. For example, if the citation comes from a book from 1615, then you know the idiom is at least 400 years old.
Anyways, there’s tons more phrases on here for you to explore. Use the menu at the top to find them.