cut at (someone or something)
1. To strike out at someone or something with a knife. The knife was the only weapon I could think to grab, so I cut at the robber with it.
2. To intentionally cut away at something. The artisan cut at the block of wood to form an image.
cut at (someone or an animal)
to thrust a knife or something similar at someone or an animal. The hoodlum cut at me, but I dodged the blade. He cut at the dog, but it had no effect on the vicious animal.
cut at somethingand cut away at
to cut on something to slice something. He cut at the chair leg carefully, trying not to remove too much. Dad cut away at the turkey and asked us what part we wanted.