To cut someone some slack

Discussion in 'English Only' started by fabsir, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. fabsir Senior Member

    Blumenau, Brazil
    Português - Brasil
    Hi everyone. I would appreciate someone clarifing the meaning of 'to cut someone some slack'. I´ve come across two meanings:

    1 - To help someone when she or he really needs it

    2 - To not judge someone very hard because he or she is in a difficult situation. E.g.: 'John is late for work again', 'Come on! Cut him some slack, his wife´s just had a baby'.

    Thank you for your help.
  2. xtracto New Member

    Mexican Spanish

    I would go for number 2.
    According to TheFreeDictionary (the forum wont let me paste a link, sorry):
    "cut someone some slack (American & Australian, informal)to allow someone to do something that is not usually allowed, or to treat someone less severely than is usual"
    "cut someone some slackto give someone additional freedom".

    Those are the common uses I have seen.
  3. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    I was only aware of meaning 2. I think that perhaps, in the relevant context, the effect may be of 1 but the basic meaning is 2.
  4. Thomas Veil Senior Member

    English - USA
    It means lowering the standards for someone. This can mean after the fact ("John came in late today, but I'm not going to complain to him"), or before ("I'm going to tell John that it's okay if he comes in late tomorrow").
  5. Æsop Banned

    Suburb of Washington, D.C.
    English--American (upstate NY)
    Literally, "to cut someone some slack" means to cut a length of rope that is longer than needed. If the person was tethered to a fixed point by the rope, the rope would be taut when he got as far as you wanted him to go. But if you "cut him some slack," the rope would not be tight at that point, and he could go a little farther before it was. Therefore, he would be able to go farther than he was supposed or formally allowed to go. So the phrase means to stretch the rules by allowing someone to do something that is formally or literally forbidden, without disregarding the rules entirely.
  6. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
  7. fabsir Senior Member

    Blumenau, Brazil
    Português - Brasil
    Thank you all very much for your comments. You´ve been very helpful as usual.

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