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.
Synonyms/Similar: get to the point, stop beating around the bush
The Origin Of ‘Cut To The Chase’
Where did this idiom come from? The expression ‘cut to the chase’ is believed to have originated during 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 and impatient 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.
- Will you stop beating around the bush and tell me what happened to my car?
- I don’t have time to talk right now, so get to the point.
Note: The citations on this page (and this site in general) are the earliest known appearances of the phrase that I could find. The purpose of these quotes is to give you an idea on how old the phrase is.
Anyway, for more expressions to read about, use the menu at the top to find them.