Cut us a break!

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Aug 17 08:14:03 UTC 2005

On his "Literal-Minded" blog, Neal Whitman reports on a website put up by
Kutztown, Pa. high-schoolers accused of felonies called

Neal calls "cut (s.o.) a break" an idiom blend, combining "cut (s.o.) some
slack" with "give (s.o.) a break". But shouldn't this simply be considered
a regional variant of the latter idiom? I note that early examples on
N-Archive come from Pennsylvania newspapers:

Indiana Evening Gazette (Indiana, Pa.), Jan 22, 1972, p. 15/1
Debbie Steffey, we'll cut you a break this time!
Bucks Co. Courier Times (Levittown, Pa.), Feb 19, 1974, p. 2/4
If you cut me a break you can have it.
Bucks Co. Courier Times (Levittown, Pa.), Jan 4, 1976, p. D5/2
Come off it fellas. Cut us a break.

Later cites come from PA, OH, MD, and NY (Syracuse).

Any further data on this? I don't see anything in HDAS.

--Ben Zimmer

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