Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cut v.5

1. to compete in business.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).

2. to manage, to achieve; usu. as cut it v.3 (1)

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ I Need The Money 19: Uncle Peter just cut off a cackle and said he knew his business.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 61: Mama [...] cuts some mean hours.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 94: That’s still the understanding, as long as you cut the stuff.
[US]H. Ellison ‘A Boy and his Dog’ in Beast that Shouted Love (1976) 181: I can’t cut the jock-and-boxer scene.
[US]M. Baker Nam (1982) 69: If you couldn’t cut something, nobody took anything into consideration. A dog-eat-dog environment.
[US] ‘Open Book’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 112: He’s bothered by Mexican heartburn / with protruding piles and gut; / A red hot tamale is right down his alley, / ’tis a diet his ass hole can’t cut.
W.D. Myers Dope Sick 24: I looked over the line and knew it wasn’t going to happen. [...] ‘I can’t cut this,’ I said to Maurice. ‘I’ll come back later’ .

3. (US black) to surpass, to outdo; thus cutting n.

[US]A.E. Duckett ‘Truckin ’round Brooklyn’ in N.Y. Age 6 June 6/7: You’re cuttin’ Claude, / You’re just ‘too much’.
[US] H.B. Webb ‘Sl. of Jazz’ in AS XII:3 182: Musicians vie with one another to see who can blow the hotter lick. The winner is said to have cut the loser.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 23 July 11/1: Leonard Harper’s present local review cut anything’s he’s done in many moons.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 148: The idea was usually to try and cut each other, each one trying to outdo the others.
[US]J.C. Holmes Horn 18: For ‘cutting’ was, after all, only the Indian wrestling of lost boyhood summers, and the trick was getting your man off balance.
[US]L. Bruce How to Talk Dirty 186: Lyndon Johnson could cut Schopenhauer mind-wise.
C. Griffiin q. in Firestone Swing, Swing, Swing (1993) 192: ‘We always tuned up a little sharper than the rest of the band to make it more brilliant [...] We could cut better that way.
[US]R.P. McNamara Times Square Hustler 68: They play the sometimes dangerous game of ‘cutting,’ or insulting each other.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 50: Sugar Lips became even mo the celebrity than he’d been after he’d cut Bird.
in Conforth & Wardlow Up Jumped the Devil 187: But you know the guys had an act of cutting heads. You know, you hit up on a guy that’s supposed to be good, you supposed to beat him playing [He] wanted me to go to Helena and cut Robert’s [i.e. Johnson] head, outdo him and steal his crown away from him.

4. (US campus) to understand.

[US]Current Sl. I:2 2/2: Cut, v. to understand.
[US]Buerkle & Barker Bourbon Street Black 75: ‘[T]he books their sidemen had to cut’ (scores they had to read) more and more required sight reading of high proficiency.

5. to be convincing, to be as one wishes.

[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 35: ‘Yeah, and she’s seventy-five percent sure it was him.’ ‘Seventy-five won’t cut in court, Al.’.

6. to break wind.

[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 500: I’ll cut you down as easily as I’ll cut a fart. You get it?
[US](con. 1969–70) D. Bodey F.N.G. (1988) 45: He bends up to flip the tape over and cuts a fart.

7. see cut a deal under deal n.1

In phrases

cut someone’s arse (v.) (also cut someone’s water off) [SE/sense 3 above + arse n. (1)]

1. (W.I., Guyn.) to thrash severely, to flog; also fig. use.

[WI]cited in Allsopp Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage (1996).

2. (US) to defeat, to surpass.

[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 13: I’ll be that Sidney Poitier cat so I can cut all your asses with white chicks.
[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 404: Yeah, that’s the pogue’s name [...] We’re going to cut his water off good.