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cut corners

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Do something in the easiest or least expensive way; also, act illegally. For example, Cutting corners in production led to a definite loss in product quality, or If the accountant cuts corners the auditors are sure to find out. This term alludes to rounding a corner as closely as possible in order to shorten the distance traversed and/or save time. [Late 1800s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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