cut to the quick

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cut (one) to the quick

1. To slice a part of the body very deeply. Be careful—one slip of that knife and you'll cut yourself to the quick.
2. To strike the deepest, most fragile part of one. Typically used to describe emotional wounds. I can't even look at her right now—that hurtful remark cut me right to the quick.
See also: cut, quick

cut someone to the quick

 and cut someone to the bone 
1. Lit. to slice the flesh of someone or some animal clear through to the underlying layer of flesh or to the bone. With the very sharp knife, David cut the beast to the quick in one blow. He cut his finger to the quick with the sharp knife.
2. Fig. to injure someone emotionally. (See also cut something to the bone.) Your heartless comments cut me to the quick. Her remarks cut him to the bone.
See also: cut, quick

cut to the quick

Deeply wound or distress, as in His criticism cut her to the quick. This phrase uses the quick in the sense of a vital or a very sensitive part of the body, such as under the fingernails. It also appeared in such older locutions as touched to the quick, for "deeply affected," and stung to the quick, for "wounded, distressed," both dating from the early 1500s. The current expression was considered a cliché from about 1850 on.
See also: cut, quick
References in periodicals archive ?
Writer-director, Peter Hedges, beautifully captures the nuances of the different family members and his dialogue crackles with barbed one-liners that cut to the quick.
His novels, though hardly high literature, can provide an unblinking look at the often hidden warts of the institutional church; his sociology has frequently cut to the quick.
Mrs Williams said: ``We're cut to the quick, dying inside.
The superintendent wanted to get a quick solution to a problem and he consulted with various staff who might be brought in and (be) familiar with systems and cut to the quick of the matter.
The slowly enraging populace are cut to the quick by every unauthorised military operation on their territory.
She cut to the quick on any issue and was a no-nonsense politician.
But she was cut to the quick when Dan, right, shot back: "Says her.
There was a time when the tragedy of wives who were 'left' by husbands cut to the quick every right-minded woman.