Cut Corners

Meaning of Idiom ‘Cut Corners’

To cut corners is to do something in the quickest, cheapest, or easiest way, using less effort, money, time, or resources than necessary so that the end result is low quality or perhaps, illegal.

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When someone is cutting corners it usually means they are leaving out some necessary component or ignoring standard rules for doing something.

Examples Of Use

“If you cut corners on the buildings you will endanger people’s lives.”

“The product is too expensive to make right now. We’ll have to cut some corners to get the manufacturing cost down.”

“The accountant had been cutting corners for years, allowing him to skim money from the company’s funds without anyone knowing.”


Used since the late 1800s.

This idiom alludes to shortening the distance traveled as much as possible by rounding a corner, otherwise known as cutting the corner or cutting off the corner. 1Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,3Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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