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/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.”
When it was time to “cut to the chase,” the movie would transition straight to the chasing sequence. During this era, some people may have viewed these chasing sequences as the “main part” of the films. Thus, while watching movies at the theater, those who grew impatient may have shouted “cut to the chase” as they were bored and wanted to see the more exciting “main part.”
This is similar to the way the expression is used today. For example, if someone is telling a long-winded story, someone who uses this phrase is essentially telling them “get to the main part of your story.”
Anyways, the earliest I could find this expression being used 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 conclusion, this phrase has only existed as an idiom for less than 100 years.
Example Sentences For ‘Cut To The Chase’
- 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 I can see someone is busy, I try cutting to the chase as I respect their time.
Note: The citations you see on this page (and the 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 for how old the phrase is.
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