Printable Version
Pronunciation: -di (US), -ti (UK) Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Scots and Northern English) 1. Short, docked, curtailed. 2. Sharp, cutting, as 'the cutty edges of mussel shells' or 'a cutty remark'.

Notes: English is the native language in places other than America and England. There are many dialects of the language, containing words that are not in the major dialects. This is one of them. I see no reason why we all should not use it.

In Play: "Short" is perhaps the most common sense in which this word is used: "You'll not be going out in such a cutty skirt at your age, me darling daughter!" The other meaning, however, is still available: "She sliced her finger on the cutty edge of the sheet of paper that she wrote her suicide note on and put off the suicide until her finger heals."

Word History: Today's Good Word is an adjective derived from cut, of course. Anything that is cut (off) is shortened. The relation of today's word to cut becomes clearer in the name of the Scotch whiskey called Cutty Sark. Cutty-sark was the nickname given to the witch Nannie Dee, a character created by Robert Burns in Tam o' Shanter (1790). This character wore a cutty sark "short shirt" from Scots English cutty "short, cut off' and sark "shirt" for the blouse she wore. We can't decide where cut came from. It should go back to Old English cyttan, though we have no evidence that such a word ever existed. Others suggest a possible Scandinavian etymology from Swedish dialectal kuta "knife" or Old Norse kuti "knife". Still others think it might have been borrowed from an ancestor of French couteau "knife". No written evidence supports any of these suggestions.

Dr. Goodword,

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