"_Cut_ the fool" and "_cut_ the slave" (not really interesting)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Aug 6 16:26:40 UTC 2012

Can one really expect to follow the path of "cut" (incise) to "cut the fool"?

Although perhaps this might be it -- from "shape
by cutting" to "perform, act like" --

VI. To shape, fashion, form, or make by cutting.
  23.a. To make or form by cutting (e.g. a
statue, engraving, seal, jewel, etc.), to
sculpture or carve (a statue or image), to
engrave (a plate, seal, etc.), to fashion (a
stone or jewel), to shape (garments, utensils, etc.).
c1500   Ballad on Money in J. O. Halliwell Nugæ
Poeticæ (1844) 48   Craftysmen that be in every
cyte..Sum cutte, sum shave, sume knoke, sum grave, Only money to wynne.
1600   Shakespeare Merchant of Venice i. i.
84   Why should a man..Sit like his grandsire, cut in Alablaster?
1623   B. Jonson in Shakespeare Comedies,
Histories & Tragedies sig. A1v,   This Figure,
that thou here seest put, It was for gentle Shakespeare cut.

And we soon have:
25. To perform or execute (an action, gesture, or
display of a grotesque, striking, or notable
kind): chiefly in certain established phrases, as
to cut a caper at caper n.2 b, to cut a dash at
dash n.1 10, to cut a figure at figure n. 7, to
cut a joke at joke n. 1, to cut a voluntary at
voluntary n. 7. Also, to cut an antic , to cut a
curvet , to cut a flourish ; to cut faces , to
make grimaces, distort the features.
a1616   Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) i. iii.
116   And. Faith, I can cut a caper. To. And I can cut the mutton too't.

Caper, of course, is not the veggie (n.1), which
is not cylindrical, but the frolicsome leap (n.2).


At 8/5/2012 07:26 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>My feeling is that _cut_ is pretty much the same in both cases. It's like
>"act."  But I could be persuaded otherwise.    (I'm familiar with "cut the
>fool" from reading, and I'm doubtful concerning the part that says,
>"esp...White people...tricks.")
>Cf. "cutting up."
>And how 'bout them Chocolate Drops? You know, the blues only got started
>about 125 years back.
>On Sun, Aug 5, 2012 at 7:00 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> > Subject:      "_Cut_ the fool" and "_cut_ the slave" (not really
> > interesting)
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > books.google.com
> >
> > Cassell's dictionary of slang - Page 375
> > Jonathon Green - 2005 - 1565 pages - Preview
> > (1)] _cut the fool_ v. [1930's-'60's] (US Black) to act the fool, esp.
> > when dealing with White people, to play tricks.
> >
> > Last night, I was listening to a "genuine Negro jig" by the Carolina
> > Chocolate Drops, when I heard - for the first time, surprisingly - the
> > phrase,
> >
> > "_cut_ the fool."
> >
> > I'm familiar only with the standard, "_play_ the fool."
> >
> > This immediately reminded me of StL BE jargon,
> >
> > "_cut_ the slave" = "work for wages," etc.
> >
> > At the time that this latter was discussed here, a few years ago,
> > there was a problem WRT how to analyse _cut_.  So, how about analyzing
> > _cut_ in "cut the slave" as being the same _cut_ as in "cut the fool"?
> > If course, that still leaves the problem as to what the semantics of
> > that _cut_ is, in the first place,
> > --
> > -Wilson
> > -----
> > All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
> > to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> > -Mark Twain
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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