Cut the cheese

Posted by Rude Boy on January 22, 2004

In Reply to: Cut the cheese posted by ESC on January 21, 2004

: : : Does ayone know the origin of 'cut the cheese' or 'who cut the cheese?'

: "Cut" has been used in this manner, in various phrases, since the late 1800s. "Cut the cheese" appeared either in the 1950s or between 1965-70, depending on who you want to believe.

: CUT THE CHEESE -- Since the late 1800s "cut" in various phrases meant "to expel intestinal gas." 1899 - To cut one's finger, is to break wind. "Cut the cheese" is placed in 1965-70 by this source. "Dictionary of American Regional English," Volume 1 by Frederic G. Cassidy (1985, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England). Another reference says the phrase "cut the cheese" was used earlier but with a different meaning: 1895 Gore, Student Slang, 17: Cut no cheese. To have no weight or value. From Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. A third source says the expression originated in the "Mainstream 1950s." From "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996).

Just for completeness, it must derive from the fact that the rind on some cheese reduces the odour, so that brie or suchlike, once cut is much smellier. When I was in a student house, we had a cheese that had been going cheap and smelt so such we kept it in a tuppaware box - you most definitely could have used 'opened the cheese box' as a metaphor for farting.