cut to the quick



cut to the quick (third-person singular simple present cuts to the quick, present participle cutting to the quick, simple past and past participle cut to the quick)

  1. (transitive, figuratively) To hurt a person deeply, especially emotionally.
    • 1899 March, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CLXV, number MI, New York, N.Y.: The Leonard Scott Publishing Company, [], OCLC 1042815524, part II:
      I was cut to the quick at the idea of having lost the inestimable privilege of listening to the gifted Kurtz.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter XI:
      But you must remember that we were boys together, and a fellow naturally confides in a chap he was boys together with. Anyway, be that as it may, he poured out his soul to me, and he hadn't been pouring long before I was able to see that he was cut to the quick. His blood pressure was high, his eye rolled in what they call a fine frenzy, and he was death-where-is-thy-sting-ing like nobody's business.
  2. (figuratively) To discuss the underlying sensitive or unpleasant root of a given topic.
    • 2005, Cristina Malcolmson, "Review of Fantasies of Female Evil: The Dynamics of Gender and Power in Shakespearean Tragedy by Cristina Alfar", Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 1, p. 112,
      Alfar's analysis cuts to the quick of the socioeconomic structures that underlie marriage, primogeniture, monarchy, and imperialism.


See alsoEdit