I provided an answer Etymology of "cut someone some slack"

I got equal number of downvotes as upvotes, 3 vs 3.

There was a similar question on the origins of {cutting a deal}, where a comment expressed doubts how biblical usages of words could have influenced English as late as the 1970s.

I want to remind you doubters that there are many yiddish words and yiddish influenced phrases in English. Yet, they were beginning to influence the English language only after the world war.

How many yiddish speakers are there compared to the number of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish pastors/rabbis, and yet you are unable to defend why such a comparatively small number of yiddish speakers could popularise so many yiddish words and anglo-yiddish phrases.

Is it because you hate, or are indignantly in denial of, the idea that the Bible could have such a huge and pervasive influence on the English language, right up to the present moment.

You probably did not experience the explosion of evangelical and rabbinic English usage during the 1970s. This explosion was soon propagated across Asia, and later in Spanish and Portuguese in South America.

You too would have to answer, how could WoodStock have contributed to the patterns of English usage. You were not in existence then, I see, so you can't explain.

I think you have to keep your hatred of the Bible in check.

  • 10
    "your hatred of the Bible"? Accusing others of that is inflammatory in the least. You have a reasonable argument for provenance of a phrase, but because some reasonable questioning of it, you accuse others of hate? That is troublesome.
    – Mitch
    Dec 11, 2016 at 15:42
  • 6
    While I've experienced a lot of anti-religion sentiment on SE sites, this doesn't strike me as an example of that. There are tons of proverbs and phrases that people have no problem admitting come from the Bible. Your answer is not convincing to me, nor does it take into account that English in contemporary use (when the first Translations of the Bible came about) was incorporated (e.g. some translations in other languages use ideas quite foreign to us). Your blame is misplaced; truly there is nothing new under the sun. Dec 11, 2016 at 16:45
  • 5
    In my mind, the biggest issue with the answer cited is that you split the idiomatic expression up into constituent parts, and tried to find them in a source which probably was written well before the origin of the phrase. By definition idioms, like phrasal verbs, have a meaning which "is different from the literal meaning of the individual elements." Dec 11, 2016 at 16:59
  • 5
    Biblehub offers dozens of different versions of Genesis 15:18, but not one of them includes the word cut. I think trying to claim "biblical" origins for cut someone some slack by appeal to that particular text is misleading, to say the least. Dec 11, 2016 at 17:22
  • Well, you have not listened to preachers who kept on using the word {cut}. It was pervasive since the 70s. Ya'll need to read theological literature and pulpit preaching, tracing the pervasive pronouncements of covenant being {cut} . Was there a KJV or NIV or bible hub to document all the yiddish words/phrases slipping into the English language? IF no, then could you likewise conclude that those are not words/phrases of yiddish origin? Dec 11, 2016 at 22:19
  • 1
    No, instead we had Leo Rosten. Dec 11, 2016 at 22:24
  • 1
    It's coming up on two years since you posted your answer. What's up with that? And it's -7/+3 now. None of those votes is mine, by the way.
    – deadrat
    Dec 12, 2016 at 6:45

3 Answers 3


[This became too long for a comment. However the additional space allows me to preface this answer by saying that I had not seen the answer before this Meta question; and as a practising Catholic I have no issue with the Bible being cited.]

One issue with the answer is that the two most influential translations of the Bible in English are Tyndale and KJV (in which Shakespeare is believed to have had a hand). Neither uses cut in Genesis 15:18.

And that same daye the LORde made a covenaunte with Abram (Tyndale)
In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram (KJV)

In fact, OED indicates that cut in the sense of "make, fashion" (cut a deal, cut a joke) has only been in English since the 16th century, influenced by Shakespeare — who may have been influenced by Hebrew and his work on the Bible, who knows?

But to draw a conclusion from Hebrew without a corresponding influence in English such as the Tyndale or KJV Bibles, or even a Shakespeare play, looks a leap too far.

  • 4
    +1 But there's no credible evidence whatever that Shakespeare was involved in the preparation of the AV. Dec 11, 2016 at 14:52
  • 4
    Andrew, Shakespeare did not use the KJV. He probably didn't even read it. "...Shakespeare’s knowledge of each of the major English Translations. In order of roughly declining influence, these include The Geneva (f.p. 1560), The Bishop’s (f.p.1568), Thomson’s New Testament (f.p.1576), The Great Bible (f.p.1539), The Coverdale (f.p.1529,1535), The Matthew, largely a reprint of Tyndale and Coverdale (f.p. 1537), Taverner’s (f.p. 1539), and Tyndale’s (f.p.1526,1530) New Testament". See here and passim scholarly works. Also @StoneyB Dec 11, 2016 at 16:43
  • 1
    For example see Sheehan's Biblical References in Shakespeare’s Plays and Hamlin's The Bible in Shakespeare. Dec 11, 2016 at 17:35
  • 1
    Perhaps I should have said "influenced by Hebrew and Biblical scholarship" as that's more neutral.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Dec 11, 2016 at 18:39
  • Exceedingly more people read the Bible, or listen to preachers of the Bible than they do Shakespeare. Dec 11, 2016 at 22:09
  • 3
    @BlessedGeek Quite so; and a great many English idioms have come from Bible translations. But they have come from Bible translations into English, not straight from Hebrew.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Dec 11, 2016 at 22:13
  • Let me repeat my statement ... Ya'll need to read theological literature and pulpit preaching, to trace the pervasive pronouncements of {covenant being cut} . There are more people who listen to the preaching of the pulpit where pastors and rabbis consistently use the word {cut}. Most don't actually read the Bible. They regurgitate what they hear from the pulpit. In those hours long sermons, week after week, year after year, you actually believe that rabbis/pastors did not persistently and insistently used the word {cut}? Dec 11, 2016 at 22:26
  • 7
    I can see we're not going to agree. But I do think that you are over-estimating the influence of preachers who preach direct from Hebrew over those who preach from resonant English translations of the Hebrew.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Dec 11, 2016 at 22:42
  • 1
    @BlessedGeek It's not helpful to make a claim and then ask people who don't take your word for it to do field research. Surely any usage which is so widely used from the pulpit that it helped create widely used idiomatic expressions has been researched and you can point to research results. Speaking personally, I have listened to many sermons in my day and I haven't heard it. That's the extent of my field research.
    – MetaEd
    Dec 13, 2016 at 14:15

The "Be nice" rules say "assume good intentions". I don't think you're acting in accordance with that when you assume everyone who downvoted your answer was motivated by "hatred of the Bible".

Your entire argument in this post is illogical. It seems to me to be structured like this: "Many English words and idioms have biblical origins. Therefore, this particular English expression must come from the Bible, and if you doubt that, you're a hater." If this type of argument worked, we would have to also say that this expression comes from Yiddish (because you say "there are many yiddish words and yiddish influenced phrases in English") and from Shakespeare, because many English words and expressions come from Shakespeare.

You give more evidence in your answer on Main, but people have pointed out in the comments there and on this post that your argument is not unimpeachable.

It's your responsibility to provide good arguments and evidence in your answers to convince people that what you say is true. If people think your answer is wrong, downvoting it is doing a service to future visitors to this site. You won't change their minds by complaining on Meta. You might be able to if you edit your answer to add more evidence and argumentation.


Your problem (besides your irrational accusations) is one of evidence. Please explain how the Hebrew word כרת (k-r-t), which can mean cut and which is idiomatic with covenant, could possibly have influenced English usage, which has had the meaning of "to fashion or shape by cutting" since the 1600s.

As Andrew Leach points out, the influence of the Bible came through translations, which did not retain the literal of the Hebrew. If you have evidence of Hebrew influence on early Modern English, present it. I doubt you have any more of that than you have of "rabbinic English usage during the 1970s", which I don't believe is even a thing.

It would probably help if you didn't refer to Yiddish (which you should probably capitalize), since Yiddish and the languages of the Bible have little to do with each other except that they both use the same alphabet. It is no secret why Yiddishisms entered English: Jews were disproportionately represented in the entertainment industry, particularly in vaudeville and the early days of film and television. And really, how many of these are there compared to the estimated 200K+ non-Yiddish words in the language?

And "WoodStock"? Is that the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival of 1969? If so, it didn't "contribute to patterns of English", although it may have publicized some. And yes, I was in existence then.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .