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1. To trim or prune something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "cut" and "back." I think that cutting back this part of the bush will bring more light into the house.
2. To reduce something. My doctor told me that I need to cut back on eating fried foods in order to improve my cholesterol. If the school board cuts back funding for the arts, then what will become of the theater program?
cut something back
to prune plants; to reduce the size of plants, bushes, etc. Let's cut these bushes back. They're getting in the way. Don't cut back my roses!
cut back (on something)
to reduce the use, amount, or cost of something. You are all going to have to cut back on water usage. You simply must cut back on office expenses.
to turn back; to reverse direction. Suddenly, the bull cut back in our direction and began chasing us. The road cuts back about a mile ahead, and it goes west again.
1. Shorten by cutting, prune, as in It's time we cut back these bushes. [1860s]
2. Reduce, decrease, as in They are going to cut back defense spending, or We have to cut back production. [c. 1940] Also see cut to the bone.
1. To shorten something, as a plant, by cutting; prune something: If I don't cut back the weeds, they will choke the flowers. Let's cut the vines back.
2. To reduce or decrease the amount of something: The factory cut back production because of budget problems. The company cut salaries back this year.