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cut off: meaning and explanation

The phrasal verb cut off has several different meanings.

  • to cut something off = to remove something

The most basic meaning of this phrasal verb is to remove a part of something, usually by using something sharp.

e.g. One side of the cake has burned a bit, but I’ll just cut it off. Hopefully no one will notice.

  • to cut something off = to stop supplying a service, e.g. the internet, electricity, etc.

e.g. We mustn’t forget to pay last month’s phone bill. I don’t want them to cut us off.

  • to be cut off from something = to be separated or isolated from somewhere else

e.g. When the tide comes in, this part of the beach is completely cut off.

  • to cut someone off = to interrupt someone, to stop them from finishing what they were saying.

e.g. I find it infuriating how he constantly cuts me off in the middle of my sentences.

  • to cut someone off = to be formally rejected/disinherited by your family, to be removed from a will.

e.g. He fell out so badly with his parents that they cut him off and never saw him again.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: Scotland

, .
to , but it's started .

About the sentence

…it’s time we started wrapping up the meeting…

The phrasal verb to wrap something up can be used to mean to finish something, to bring it to a close.

e.g. I think that’s enough for today. Let’s wrap it up and head home.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: North America

Micro-listening #3

Accent: England (RP)


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Have you every visited or stayed in a place that felt completely cut off (isolated/remote)?
  • Do you know anyone who tends to cut people off before they finish speaking?

Photo by Keila Hötzel on Unsplash

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