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A cut above

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 07, 2007

In Reply to: A cut above posted by john savage on January 07, 2007

: what is the origin of the term " a cut above the rest " to describe someone or something which is that little bit more superior

More superior? Well, leave it be. I could not find the origin, although the expression gets into the OED:
s.v. cut: "18. Phrase. a cut above (some person or thing): a degree or stage above. colloq.
[1797 LAMB Lett. I. 78 There is much abstruse science in it above my cut.] 1818 SCOTT Hrt. Midl. xvi, Robertson is rather a cut abune me. 1842 MARRYAT Percival Keene i, She was..a cut above the housekeeper in the still~room. 1891 L. B. WALFORD Mischief of Monica xi, The girl herself is a cut below par."

I think one has to imagine what kind of cut is involved. A cut can measure a distance or an interval in whatever quality you choose. Think of a tally-board, with, say, numbers or values represented by cuts in a wooden board, or the equivalent as a measure of degree. "He was a cut above me in _______." Fill in the blank. Think of a cut as the space between two marks on a tally-board. This may be totally off, but I don't think that's proved by the fact that nobody says "She's two cuts above me."