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cut someone dead

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Pretend not to see or recognize someone, as in “Any fellow was to be cut dead by the entire school” (Benjamin Disraeli, Vivien Grey, 1826). This idiom, in the first half of the 1600s, began as to cut one; in the early 1800s dead was added for greater emphasis.

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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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