Origin of phrase "don't make me cut you"?
July 20, 2010 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Does anybody know where the expression "Don't make me cut you" comes from originally? I have searched and asked others with powerful google-fu to search and we're coming up empty.
posted by Theresa to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I always assumed it was from MADtv.

Are there older references?
posted by two lights above the sea at 12:03 PM on July 20, 2010

It's not in the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs so it would seem to have originated in the states? A search reveals just the MadTV reference and many song lyrics.
posted by Mertonian at 12:17 PM on July 20, 2010

I really think it's older than MadTV. I have absolutely no facts to back that up, except I remember saying, "Don't make me cut you," when I was in college, and that was back in the mid 80s.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:19 PM on July 20, 2010

I have heard it more often as "I will cut you". Google returns 907K results on that one, vs. 197K on the one you've been searching for... but still the indication is that it's from MadTV. (Note: "Bitch, I will cut you" gets 395K results.)
posted by mireille at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2010

Is it a spin off of "I'll cut you"? I heard that first in, maybe, 1992 and I think it was from a tv show at the time.
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2010

I'm going to vote for "common phrase without a recognizable source." The closest thing I can think is that it seems to be an imitation of street slang in the 1960s and 1970s, but I know of "cut" as a verb meaning "to injure with a knife," and taking a person as the direct object, from at least Dashiell Hammett's novels from the early 20th century, if not earlier. My guess is that this phrase just gradually gained prominence from general popularization and usage; I don't think it has a particular provenance.
posted by koeselitz at 12:34 PM on July 20, 2010

Example: we find in a translation of John Baptiste Louvet de Couvray's The Amours of the Chevalier de Faublas this:

"You rascal, I will cut you in the face if you follow me..."

This is one of thousands from the 19th century alone. It's a common phrase; I don't think you'll find a specific origin.
posted by koeselitz at 12:42 PM on July 20, 2010

I agree, koeselitz. After some searching I found:

' "Keep off!" said the Tin Soldier, "or I'll cut you with my sword." ' from The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)

But, that's so far off, really... It's everywhere.
posted by two lights above the sea at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2010

In all likelihood, what the OP is talking about originates in a 70s exploitation film or tv show, which was then popularized by MadTV in the 90s (i.e., by 20- and 30-somethings who grew up watching those bad movies and shows). It's not just variations on the phrase "I will cut you," which is obviously a simple declarative sentence that has been written or spoken thousands of times, surely.

But I don't think anyone's going to be able to get back to that Ur-source.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:17 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

The oldest reference to the exact phrase "Don't make me cut you" in Google book search is 1976. Obviously the more general phrasing of "I'll cut you" goes back much farther.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:27 PM on July 20, 2010

It's a take off of Ellen Cleghorne's Security Guard from SNL who always ends her sketches with, "What makes you think I won't cut you?" That predated MadTV by years. The phrasing is not exact, but it's where the saying comes from.
posted by ColdChef at 1:31 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife says this to me all the time, but it usually sounds more like "I'll cutchu!" No idea where she got it from, but the MadTV link doesn't seem to be it.
It is also quite possible that she is just deranged. Also, I love her dearly and hope to not be cut.
posted by Gilbert at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2010

I always associated it with ColdChef's answer.
posted by alikins at 2:10 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I always associated it with Pimpbot 5000 from Conan O'Brien back in the day.
posted by xotis at 2:47 PM on July 20, 2010

Really old. My intuition was that both "Don't make me hurt/kill/etc you" and "I'll cut you" have been in common usage (at least in various "honor cultures" in the USA) since the 19th century or earlier. (But I see that koeselitz found an 18th century reference, so even earlier than that.
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 2:52 PM on July 20, 2010

I remember something vaguely about a guy, maybe in a movie or rap song saying "Now I'm gonna have to cut cha!" in response to someone doing him wrong.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:02 PM on July 20, 2010

This might be relevant - to "cut someone" or to "cut someone dead" once meant to snub them socially. We talk about people being "cut" from a team, which might be a survival of that form.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:04 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: These are ALL SUCH FASCINATING ANSWERS! I'm thrilled. The reason why I am asking is because of this subversive cross stitch kit which I find hysterical. Thank you all for taking the time to answer!
posted by Theresa at 12:29 AM on July 21, 2010

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