Cut us a break!
bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Aug 25 04:37:43 UTC 2005
On Wed, 24 Aug 2005 23:58:16 -0400, Wilson Gray wrote:
>On 8/19/05, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at rci.rutgers.edu> wrote:
>> As for "cut (someone) a check", that's a much more recent usage
>> (c. 1980).
>Is it really the case that "cut a check" can't be documented any
>earlier than 1980? <rhetorical question> That is absolutely amazing! I
>may be - well,probably am - alone in this, but I've always considered
>this "cut" to be the same as the verb "cut" defined under 10 in HDAS
>p.545a, dating back to WWII. I haven't heard anyone speak of "cutting
>a check" since the '60's. Had anyone asked me - fortunately, no one
>has, sparing me embarrassment, no doubt - I would have said that "cut
>a check" is a bit of business jargon that fell out of use years before
See the alt.usage.english thread from last year that I mentioned:
At the time we were unable to find any use of "cut a check" in the
relative sense before a Safire "On Language" column from May 24, 1981.
(The literal "cutting" of checks, as from a checkbook, dates back to the
19th century.) As for ditransitive "cut (someone) a check", the earliest I
found was also from 1981:
Wall Street Journal, Jul 28, 1981, p. 3
"I'm staying with Seagram because they'll cut me
a check next Monday morning and I'll have the
cash Tuesday. Then I'll probably buy some more
Conoco and tender it to Du Pont," said one
Checking the databases now, I don't see any antedatings offhand. The '80s
usage could of course be a revival from the '60s or earlier, but I have
yet to see any evidence for that.
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