The meaning of “cut to the chase” is to get directly to the point, leaving out all of the unnecessary details.
Synonyms/Related: get to the point, stop beating around the bush
The Origin Of ‘Cut To The Chase’
What is the origin of the phrase ‘cut to the chase’? This expression is believed to come from the era of silent films in the 1920s. As the name implies, silent films do not have any sound or spoken dialogue; they’re silent! The acting was typically done with facial expressions and gestures. These films often 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.”
Cutting to the chase in a movie would mean transitioning straight to the chasing sequence. During this time, some people might have viewed the chasing sequence as the “main part” of the film. Thus, while watching a movie at the theater, bored viewers might have thought or even shouted “cut to the chase,” as they wanted to see the “main part” of the film, the exciting action part.
The expression is used similarly today. For example, when a person is telling a long-winded story, someone might tell them to cut to the chase, which is basically saying “get to the main part of your story.”
Anyways, the earliest I could find this expression being used as an idiom and outside the context of film is from The Berkshire Evening Eagle newspaper, 1947:
“Let’s cut to the chase. There will be no tax relief this year.”
In summary, this phrase has only existed as an idiom for less than 100 years.
- Sometimes when my friends talk about things, they go on and on and I wish they would just cut to the chase.
- I’m a door salesmen, so when someone answers the door and I notice they are busy, I try cutting to the chase so as to respect their time.
Anyway, to read about more expressions like this one, use the menu at the top to find them.