[ kuht-out ]
/ ˈkʌtˌaʊt /
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something cut out from something else, as a pattern or figure cut out or intended to be cut out of paper, cardboard, or other material.
a valve in the exhaust pipe of an internal-combustion engine, which when open permits the engine to exhaust directly into the air ahead of the muffler.
an act or instance of cutting out.
Slang. a trusted intermediary between two espionage agents or agencies.
Electricity. a device for the manual or automatic interruption of electric current.
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Origin of cutout

First recorded in 1790–1800; noun use of verb phrase cut out
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a cutout?

A cutout is something that is cut from something else, such as an image of a celebrity printed on a large sheet of cardboard with all the unprinted cardboard cut away.

To cut out is to shape or form by cutting. The result is a cutout, as in When Darby made the wooden dollhouse, he made sure to include square cutouts in the walls to represent windows.

In electrical engineering, a cutout is a device that interrupts the electrical current to a device, such as a lamp.

Example: There was a cutout of the celebrity outside the theater on opening weekend.

Where does cutout come from?

The first records of the term cutout come from the late 1700s. It combines the word cut, meaning “to use a sharp tool on something,” and out, meaning “away from.”

You might have seen small cutouts in magazines that you would cut out to make a papercraft, such as a doll or knick-knack. A larger cutout would be punched or cut out of a larger sheet to create a replica kit, a diorama, or a display. Life-size cutouts of celebrities or fictional characters are popularly used to promote the celebrity or the work the character comes from, such as a superhero movie.

Did you know … ?

What are some synonyms for cutout?

What are some words that share a root or word element with cutout

What are some words that often get used in discussing cutout?

How is cutout used in real life?

A cutout is an object that can take many forms and has a specialized meaning in engineering.



Try using cutout!

Is cutout used correctly in the following sentence?

I cutout all the bad aspects of my life last year.

How to use cutout in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cutout

cut out

verb (adverb)
noun cutout
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with cutout

cut out


Excise, remove as if by cutting; also, form or shape as if by cutting or carving. For example, Young children love cutting out pictures from magazines, or The first step is cutting out the dress pattern. The first usage dates from about 1400, the second from the mid-1500s.


Oust, replace, or supplant someone, as in He cut out all her other boyfriends. [Mid-1600s]


Also, cut out for. Suited or fitted by nature, as in Dean's not cut out for lexicography. [Mid-1600s]


Also, cut out for. Assigned beforehand, prepared, predetermined, as in We have our work cut out for us. [Early 1600s]


Deprive, as in He cut her out of his will. [Early 1800s]


Stop, cease, as in He cut out the motor, or Cut out that noise! [c. 1900] Also see cut it out.


Leave, especially in a hurry; also, run away. For example, I'm cutting out right now, or At the first hint of a police raid they cut out. [Slang; first half of 1800s] Also see cut and run; cut the comedy.

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