cut to the bone


Severely reduced, as in During the Depression Grandmother's housekeeping money was cut to the bone. The phrase to the bone, literally meaning “through the flesh to the inmost part or core,” dates from about 1400. This expression in effect means that everything extraneous has been cut away so that only bone remains.

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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.