Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cut v.3

[on model of SE cut a figure/caper/dash etc]

to pose as, to act in the manner of.

implied in cut a sham under sham n.1
[UK]N. Ward A Compleat and Humorous Account of all the Remarkable Clubs (1756) 261: As if he had been bred up from his Cradle to cut, sham, and wheedle.
[UK]Bloody Register III 170: The next exploit Jenny went upon was, Slanging the gentry mort rumly with a sham Kinchin (that is, cutting well the woman big with child).
[UK] ‘The Blue Lion’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 32: He cuts a swell, and rings the bell.
[UK]Hereford Jrnl 3 Oct. 4/3: The whole was an attempt at cutting a swell by the ‘High Life below stairs’.
[UK]G. Smeeton Doings in London 41: The three bucks [...] are probably clerks or apprentices, released from desk or counter, to act the gentleman, to cut a swell for a few hours.
Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (N.Y.) 21 June 4/1: His wearing green spectacles [...] does not arise from ostentation, or a desire to cut a buck [i.e. play the dandy].
[US]W.T. Porter Big Bear of Arkansas (1847) 129: ‘Hurrah’ [...] says Jem, takin’ a drink and cuttin’ a few pigeon wings with his left leg.
[US]Durivage & Burnham Stray Subjects (1848) 107: I took her out to Harlem – / On the road we cut a swell.
[US] ‘Kate’s Medley’ in Fred Shaw’s Champion Comic Melodist 65: I went to the Gaieties, / To see Pell cut his funny tricks [...] All cutting, cut, cut, cutting, / We’re all cutting our way through the world, / Some are cutting to get rich, others cut in vain.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Roughing It 325: What would the boys say if they could see us cutting a swell like this in New York?
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 547: cut a pigeon wing, v. phr. To dance with graceful sweeps.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 352: He was not able to cut the buck that time.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God (1998) 141: Always singin’ ol’ nigger songs! Always cuttin’ de monkey for white folks.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Dust Tracks On a Road (1995) 937: People have been telling me to clap hands, crack jokes, and generally cut Big Jim by the acre.
[US]Botkin Lay My Burden Down 121: I was plenty biggity and liked to cut a step.
[US](con. WWII) J.O. Killens And Then We Heard The Thunder (1964) 123: You gon show me pass, boy, or you gon cut the goddamn fool?

In phrases

cut... (v.)

see also under relevant n.

cut a caper (upon nothing) (v.)

to be hanged.

[UK]Etherege Man of Mode V ii: No one woman is worth the loss of a cut in a caper.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk IV 299: That very hour, from an exalted triple tree, two of the honestest gentlemen in Catchpole-land had been made to cut a caper on nothing.
[Ire]K. O’Hara Midas II i: Soon mounted in the air, if / You chance to see the cudden / A caper cut before the sheriff.
cut a rusty (v.) [SE rustic, a peasant]

(US) to show off, to behave in a silly, unsophisticated manner; to have a tantrum.

[US]J.C. Neal Charcoal Sketches (1865) 111: It won’t do for us to be cutting rusties here at this time o’ night.
[US]H. Shearin ‘An Eastern Kentucky Dialect Word-List’ in DN III vii 539: rusty, n. A prank or caper; used chiefly in the phrase ‘cut a rusty,’ meaning play a prank.
[US] in J.M. Hunter Trail Drivers of Texas (1963) I 333: ‘Cutting a rusty’ means doing your best.
[US]R.F. Adams Cowboy Lingo 206: To do one’s best was to ‘cut a rusty’. [Ibid.] 217: When a cowboy ‘went a-wooing’ he was said to be [...] ‘cuttin’ a rusty.’.
K.M. Morehouse Rain on the Just 113: Still if Mammy should cut a rusty over the missing shirt-sleeve [etc.].
Writer’s Program God Bless the Devil! 89: Woody’d cut a rusty was he to hear you talk like that!
[US]Indep. Record (Helena, MT) 9 Oct. 3/7: If you’ve done something smart, you’ve just ‘cut a rusty’.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
D.G. Moore 20th Century Cowboy 29: Well, cowboy, you shure did cut a rusty caper this time, didn’t you?
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 2: cut a rusty – to have a tantrum.
G.H. Rubio Icy Sparks 208: ‘Ain’t no one able to cut a rusty like you!’ ‘If you mean I’m about to take a fit,’ I snorted, ‘well, you ain't wrong!’.
R.J. Bailey Lorena 139: Cut a rusty now and then when a strange varmint comes around, but other than that they be doin jes fine.
cut a swat (v.) [SE cut a swathe]

(US campus) to make an impression.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 8: swat, to cut a From swath. To make a sensation by personal appearance or by some remarkable performance; to cut a dash.
cut caper-sauce (v.) [SE cut a caper, to dance]

to be hanged.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 93: ‘To cut caper-sauce,’ i.e., to dance upon nothing ? be hanged, very coarse.
cut cheese (v.)

(US campus) to impress, to influence, to make a difference.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 17: cut no cheese To have no weight or value. Used with reference to idea or argument.
cut Grecian (v.)

(W.I.) of a woman, to walk in a self-consciously ‘stylish’ manner, either arrogantly or proudly.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).
cut it (v.)

see separate entry .

cut round (v.)

(US) to show off, to make a display.

[US]A. Greene Glance at N.Y. II v: Some one told me that Bill Sykes was cuttin’ round you.
cut the buck (v.) [dial. cut the buck, to dance vigorously; ult. f. buck and wing]

(US) to work hard.

[US]H. Wiley Wildcat 58: Us boys is goin’ to have a meetin’ every night, – shows an’ cuttin’ de buck an’ night school an’ a general ruckus!
[US]E.C.L. Adams Congaree Sketches 52: Dey come to de road jumpin’ to de drum and steppin’ as high as a man’s head [...] You ought er seen some of dem niggers cut de buck and de buzzard lope.
[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 292: I’ll cut the buck.