Antedating of "to cut a corners"
hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 30 12:58:26 UTC 2013
"to cut a corners" or "corners" (OED 1869)
An article entitled 'About "Going Straight On"' in The Oxford Magazine and Church Advocate(Vol. III., October 1863, No. 36, page 340) warns us of the pitfalls of cutting corners:
I do not believe, either, in what we used to call cutting corners or going short roads to places. The short road I have always found is in the end the longest. There are more gates to open, more stiles to get over, something or other to hinder, and the distance we save we lose in the time we take. Set one man to go to a place four miles off by the road; set another to go a short cut across the fields, and ten to one the man on the road gets there first. And it is natural he should, for the road is the legitimate way, the one that has been tried and found the best, and by going straight on it we shall gain time if not distance.
Google Books full view: http://goo.gl/03zJ5D
When hunting hare with greyhounds, both a good hound and a good rider will never cut a corner. Plenty of examples can be found in the 1850s and 1860s.
The earliest I found is from 1852 in Knightley William Horlock's Letters on the Management of Hounds, where this is the first of two uses on page 208:
About a hundred and fifty horsemen were at once scattered over the downs, riding at the top of their speed, in almost all directions; some following the hounds, but a greater number, not liking the undulating nature of the ground, cutting corners, and hustling each other by cross riding.
Google Books full view: http://goo.gl/v9baqg
More here, including why it is still true today that good riders and good hounds seldom cut corners.
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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