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I saw this drug store sign from 1929. Does the term "cut rate" have a pharmaceutical origin or does this just refer to "low cost"? This in a low income area, but I know pharmacies "cut" drugs with other substances so I became curious about the origin. enter image description here

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  • collinsdictionary 8. verb If you cut something, you reduce it. I'm not sure this question would even pass muster on English Language Learners – FumbleFingers Mar 16 at 18:33
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    It was used in the mid 18th century of railroad freight tariffs lower than the prevailing or published rate. "Cut" doesn't mean "diluted" as it does with drugs. The word cut in this context may go back to a figure of speech based on the tally mark/measure. The rate is "a cut below" the prevailing rate. Look up the etymology of tally. – TRomano Mar 16 at 22:50
  • @TRomano You mean the 19th century - there weren't any railroads before that! – Kate Bunting Mar 17 at 9:11
  • Sorry, yes, a typo. 19th c. – TRomano Mar 17 at 10:10
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Merriam Webster:

marked by, offering, or making use of a reduced rate or price

  • This is part of the UP/DOWN metaphor theme, here instantiated as a commercial transaction metaphor that involves removing metaphoric money from a metaphoric stack, thus cutting the price down, or lowering the rate. Hence cut-rate like cut-throat, a VO compound – John Lawler Mar 16 at 20:36

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