More "cut ice" vs. "cut figure"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Jul 9 01:26:12 UTC 2009

A few examples where "cut [no] ice" is opposed to "cut [no] figure".


[record of New York city government committee proceedings, 1900]


Q. Do you know how the council stands? A. I am not familiar with the
record. I don't know whether that had a three-fourths Democratic
majority. I suppose it has. However, both Republicans and Democrats are
very impartial in holding up things. They don't let a little matter of
party interfere with holding up things.

Q. Then it is a business enterprise, for party lines cut no ice? A.
Party lines seem to cut no figure.



[play, 1896-7]


_Barlow._ But I haven't seen your references, Bob, and that's important,
as Mrs. Perkins knows.

_Mrs. Perkins._ Oh, not so very. The way references are written nowadays
they don't cut any -- ah --

_Perkins._ Ice?

_Mrs. Perkins (severely)._ -- figure! They don't cut any figure at all.
My last cook was recommended as being magnificent, and she was. She
couldn't cook, but her manner was regal, and her dress absolutely



[newspaper excerpt, 1909]

[Note that this is a quote from the Web without an original page image.
Still I don't see any reason to doubt its authenticity.]



[subtitle] Color of Hair "Cuts No Ice" in Criminal Case, Says Latshaw.

Red hair is not necessarily a badge of virtue. It may be as the judge of
the municipal court says, that he has tried only six red haired men in
four years. The others might have escaped while the fight was going on.

Records at the county jail show an average of four to five red heads
behind bars all the time. A few months ago there was even a red haired
negro, but he has since been released. Marshal Joel Mayes says, however,
that he has never heard of a red headed man being hanged in this county.
He places no credence in the "red hair for the innocent" theory.

"This court pays more attention to the color of a man's nose than to the
color of his hair," said Judge Ralph S. Latshaw, of the criminal court
when asked about the connection of red hair and crime.

"The color of hair and the eyes cuts no figure, so far as criminals are
concerned. Neither has appearance much to do with crime. We sentence
some fine looking young men to jail occasionally, after they have been
convicted by juries and had every chance to make good looks count in
their favor."



-- Doug Wilson


The American Dialect Society -

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