The idiom “cut to the chase” means to get to the point, to stop talking about unimportant things and to focus on the main issue. It is a way of telling someone to stop beating around the bush and to just say what they mean.
The idiom is often used in business settings, when someone is trying to get a point across quickly and efficiently. It can also be used in everyday conversation, when someone is tired of hearing someone else’s long-winded story.
The Origin of “Cut to the Chase”
The idiom “cut to the chase” is thought to have originated in the early days of silent film. At the time, many films would include a chase scene as the climax of the story. However, some inexperienced filmmakers would pad out the film with unnecessary dialogue, which would bore the audience and prolong the time before the exciting chase scene.
To avoid this, directors would sometimes yell out “cut to the chase” to the projectionist, meaning that they wanted the film to skip to the chase scene without showing the boring dialogue in between.
The phrase eventually made its way into everyday language, and is now used to mean “get to the point.”
The History of “Cut to the Chase”
The earliest recorded use of the phrase “cut to the chase” in print was in 1928, in an article in the magazine “Variety.” The article, titled “The Movies,” is about the upcoming film The Big Trail. The author, Frank S. Nugent, writes: “It is a good thing that the talkies have come to stay, or we might have missed the pleasure of hearing the late Hal Roach bellowing ‘Cut to the chase’ at his studio.” However, the phrase may have been in use for some time before that.
The phrase became more popular in the 1940s, and was often used in films and television shows. For example, in the 1946 film “The Big Sleep,” Humphrey Bogart’s character says, “Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?”
The phrase continued to be popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and is still used today. It is a common phrase in business settings, and is also used in everyday conversation.
“Cut to the Chase” in Literature
The phrase “cut to the chase” has been used in literature for many years. For example, in the 1940 novel, The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett, the character Sam Spade becomes impatient with the long story being told by his new client, and her reluctance to get to the point, and he interrupts her, saying: “Let’s cut to the chase,” which means that he wants her to stop beating around the bush and to just tell him what she really wants.
The phrase has also been used in more recent literature. For example, in the 2007 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, the character Christopher Boone says, “I want to cut to the chase.” Christopher Boone, the protagonist of the novel, is a 15-year-old boy with autism who is trying to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor’s dog, Wellington.
Christopher is very literal-minded and does not understand the use of idioms. When his teacher, Siobhan, asks him what he wants to know about the case, he says, “I want to cut to the chase.” Siobhan explains to him that this means he wants to get to the point, and Christopher says, “Yes, that is what I want.”
The use of the idiom “cut to the chase” in this context is significant because it shows that Christopher is trying to understand the world around him in a literal way. He does not understand the nuances of language, and he takes idioms at face value. This makes it difficult for him to communicate with others, but it also gives him a unique perspective on the world.
The idiom “cut to the chase” is also used in other parts of the novel. For example, in Chapter 10, Christopher’s father tells him that he wants to “cut to the chase” and talk about Christopher’s mother. This use of the idiom shows that Christopher’s father is also trying to be direct and to avoid beating around the bush.
The use of the idiom “cut to the chase” in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a reminder that language can be a complex and nuanced thing. It is also a reminder that people with autism may have difficulty understanding idioms and other figures of speech. However, by being patient and understanding, we can help people with autism to communicate more effectively and to participate more fully in society.
“Cut to the Chase” in Popular Culture
The phrase “cut to the chase” has also been used in popular culture, in films, television shows, magazines, and advertisements.
In the 1987 film The Princess Bride, the character Westley says, “Let’s cut to the chase. What’s in the box?”
The phrase is common in television shows has also been used in many shows, including “The Office,” “Seinfeld,” and “Friends.”
In the magazine “Time,” a 2007 article about the Iraq War was titled “Cut to the Chase: What Went Wrong?”
And in an advertisement for the car company BMW, a voiceover says, “Let’s cut to the chase. BMWs are fast.”
Ways of Using “Cut to the Chase” in Everyday Situations
The phrase “cut to the chase” can be used in a variety of everyday situations. For example, you might say “cut to the chase” to a friend who is telling you a long story that you’re not interested in hearing.
You might also say “cut to the chase” to a co-worker who is giving you a presentation that is full of unnecessary information.
And you might even say “cut to the chase” to your boss if you’re feeling impatient.
The idiom “cut to the chase” is a common phrase that is used to tell someone to stop beating around the bush and to just say what they mean. Here are some examples of how the idiom “cut to the chase” can be used in everyday situations:
- “I’m not sure what you’re getting at, so please cut to the chase.”
- “I don’t have time for your long-winded story, so please cut to the chase.”
- “I’m tired of your excuses, so please cut to the chase and tell me what you really want.”