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Cutting corners

Posted by David FG on February 06, 2010 at 17:46

In Reply to: Cutting corners posted by R. Berg on February 06, 2010 at 16:22:

: : : : What is the origin of phrase 'cutting corners'? Thanks.

: : : It is an allusion to the phenomenon of taking a diagonal, short route from one place to another rather than going to the end of one road (literally or figuratively) then taking a 90 degree turn to the left or right and following that road to your destination: thus cutting off the corner.

: : : It means, simply, to use the quick and easy solution to any problem.

: : : DFG

: : Does it? When I use "cutting corners", or hear it used, I take it to mean "leaving out things you would and should normally do (such as leaving a margin for safety, or maintaining high quality, or informing people who have a right to know) for the sake of speed/economy". It's entirely a matter of context (and outcome) whether cutting corners is a good thing to do or not. (VSD)

: I've heard it only in contexts that make it a bad thing to do. Does it definitely originate in driving, not tailoring, where economizing on fabric by skimping at the ends of seams produces a weaker garment? ~rb

Yes, I think you are right. The implication is that the 'quick and easy way' is going to result in a substandard outcome. I should have made that clear in my original post.