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Roughly what purpose does the word "cut" serve in the sentence "cut me some slack"?

I have a guess as to what this word means in that sentence. English is actually my second language; my first was Polish.

So in literal translation from a common Polish phrase "to cut yourself a nap" means that you basically have yourself a nap.

So coming from that, I assume that to "cut" in the sentence in question means to just give/have yourself some slack (If you give yourself slack, you're gonna have slack is what I mean by "have yourself some slack").

Would this be an acceptable interpretation?

marked as duplicate by user66974, Mari-Lou A, Cascabel, Canis Lupus, tchrist Mar 15 '17 at 1:50

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    It means give. But you can't rely on the form of idioms (the words they're composed of) to faithfully represent their meanings. Decomposing an idiom does no good. The words in an idiom are analogous to letters in a word: individually meaningless, collectively and sequentially meaningful. What does kick mean in kick the bucket? Well, it means kick. But kick the bucket means die. You just have to memorize the whole thing as a single word, with a given meaning. – Dan Bron Mar 14 '17 at 16:54
  • As much as I agree that it is often best not to decompose an idiom and just take it and it's meaning for what it is. The "kick" in "kick the bucket" is much easier to fathom as you often say "kick the [sth]" and it is easy to find a viable origin of the phrase. Phrases aren't just words people thought would look nice together; when they were coined they were probably easily understood with the way English was commonly spoken and written at that time or they link to an event. – Oskar Mar 14 '17 at 17:27
  • You are 100% correct, but meanings change over centuries and get disconnected from their origins and literal components, and while it is a fascinating and educational field of study, the etymology of an idiom no more licenses the current meaning of an idiom than it would for a single word. The history of the "a" in "aisle" is rich and fascinating, and it was "put there for a reason" but knowing why it's there has no bearing on the meaning of the word, and neither does the "a" itself have meaning. Conflating current meaning and origins is known as the etymological fallacy. – Dan Bron Mar 14 '17 at 17:31
  • As another example, the "bought" in "bought the farm" originally referred to the fact that one of the original financial securities was life insurance, and when a farmer died, his life insurance kicked in and paid off the mortgage for the farm, so his survivors could continue to live on it even without his labor. But today the proportion of people who are farmers is much, much lower, and most people are unaware of the history behind the idiom, and when they use it, they simply mean it as a colorful way to say "died", and so in a strict sense, the "bought" in "bought the farm" is meaningless. – Dan Bron Mar 14 '17 at 17:32
  • @DanBron It is not very difficult, with access to the internet, to look up in an instant, the possible etymologies of expressions like kick the bucket – WS2 Mar 14 '17 at 18:25

Although I am not familiar with the origin of the term, it could be similar to phrases such as, "the whole nine yards" and, "the tables have turned". These terms referring to 9 yards of cloth and actual tables. So, it could have been from an actual request to cut someone enough rope to perform a task and adding some for, "slack".

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    You could google etymology of 'cut someone some slack' to see what he authorities have to say and confirm or deny your guess... – Dan Bron Mar 14 '17 at 18:56
  • With no evidence, I suggest 'cut me some slack' share its roots with 'money for old rope'. 'Money for old rope' means exactly what it says: a ship's owner or captain or quartermaster might take a length of rope so old or worn it should have been condemned and sell it as new or at best, what today we might call 'part worn.' 'cut me some slack' suggests two origins, one being that a sailing ship with more rope than needed could take in the slack and sell the surplus. T'other might say rigging anything perfectly is impossible; if at first I mess it up, allow me ta margin of error… – Robbie Goodwin Mar 25 '17 at 21:19

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