Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cut (one’s) stick(s) v.

1. to leave quickly, to run off [Hotten (1859) suggests the rural practice of cutting a notch or tally in a stick to reckon up sheaves of corn; ‘Cut your stick, then, means to make your mark and pass on’].

[UK]Jack Randall’s Diary 32: My friend is once more putting in his claim to be considered as an accomplished Fibber, and that his declaration of ‘cutting his sticks,’ is all – a Flam.
[UK]Sussex Advertiser 14 Apr. 4/3: Our friend was completely ‘stow whidded’ and cut his stick.
[US]N.-Y. Eve. Post 8 Jan. 2/4–5: ‘Well then,’ says I, ‘Tom,’ says I, ‘had’nt [sic] we better be cutting stick and heading home?’ for we were partly blue.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 58: It was plagy lucky [...] I tell you, that he cut his stick as he did.
[UK]‘Alfred Crowquill’ Seymour’s Humourous Sketches (1866) 1: Let me know by Jim if you can cut your stick as early as nine.
[Ire] ‘Flea!’ Dublin Comic Songster 174: A suit of clothes wid fleas inside [...] makes you wish they’d cut their stick.
[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 12 Mar. n.p.: Nothing short of cutting his stick like blazes, for the midwife, could any way relieve her.
[UK] ‘Owdham Chap’s Visit to th’ Queen’ in C. Hindley Curiosities of Street Lit. (1871) 66: So off to Lunnon, cut thy stick, and look at th’ royal babby.
[UK]Essex Standard 30 Aug. 4/6: You might have [...] bought it and give your note, and cut stick afore the note became due.
[Aus]‘The Raid of the Aborigines’ in Bell’s Life in Sydney 4 Jan. 4/1: Wingate soon cuts his stick at the sight of a spear.
Sth Australian 24 May 3/4: [H]e explained the meaning of ‘mizzle,’ [...] signifying in slang language, ‘cut your stick’ — ‘make yourself scarce’ — or ‘run away’.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Dec. 87/2: Old Time is cutting his stick / [...] / Don’t trust too much to to-morrow.
[UK] ‘Lovely Albert’ in Henderson Victorian Street Ballads (1937) 149: He cried to Vic, I’ll cut my stick / To St. Petersburg go right slap.
Cadiz Democratic Sentinel (OH) 30 May 1/2: Barney and his niggers cut stick in double quick time.
[US] ‘What are they thinking of?’ Grant Songster 6: Where are the ones that [...] were the first in time of need / To ‘cut sticks,’ and skedaddle.
[US]W.H. Thomes Bushrangers 272: Hadn’t we better leave the brute and cut stick – hey? [Ibid.] 367: Arter my Bobby was born, I had to cut sticks.
[UK]H. King Savage London 296: Now cut your sticks home careful, wi’out tumblin’ down the stairs.
[UK]T.B. Reed Cock House Fellsgarth 189: ‘Cut your sticks, and learn your rotten Modern lessons’.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 22: Cut One’s Stick, to go away quickly.
[US]Sun (NY) 15 May 17/5: The bear [...] cut his sticks on the double quick fer them wood down yonder.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Dec. 36/2: It’s five years since that Smith girl said ‘I was under the whip,’ and twice I’ve ‘cut my stick’ – to the world’s end each time – only to crawl back again. Bet I’m not the only one either! Why can’t a fellow become indifferent?
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Sept. 40/1: ’Twas bitt’rer still to have to own – the Mighty Plan miscarries – / And double-quick to cut your stick away from splendid Paris.
[US](con. 1880s) E. Cunningham Triggernometry (1957) 227: He had cut stick for the Bend.
[US] ‘Fifth Ozark Word List’ in AS XIII:4 Dec. 314/2: cut a stick v.phr. To run rapidly.

2. to bring to a conclusion, cite 1827 suggests a fighter giving up.

[UK]Pierce Egan’s Life in London 3 June 981/2: Mr. Crick had napped it so thick, that he [...] cut his stick, to prevent his having another lick [...] and he preferred looking towards Somers’ Town to seek for a nurse.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 14 Feb. 3/2: I will therefore cut my stick on this subject by merely further observing it is much to be regretted that All Saints' Church should progress so very slowly.

3. to die.

[UK]Bell’s Life & Sporting Chron. 16 Dec. 3/3: We allude to Bill Gibbons who ‘cut his stick’ [...] after a short [...] fatal illness.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Hillingdon Hall I 44: Old Snarle, as you’ll have heard, has cut his stick Poor old bitch!
[UK]Hereford Jrnl 22 Sept. 2/2: When Pius Aeneas, ‘in a fix,’ / ‘Cut his stick,’ and punted o’er the Styx.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 594: To cut one’s stick, used in England instead of to leave, has been enlarged in its meaning by American vigor of speech, and here often means to die.

4. to travel around looking for work [f. cutting a stick to help one as one walks along].

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.