cut something to the bone

cut to the bone

1. To cut or slice someone or something so deep that it reaches the bone beneath the flesh. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cut" and "to." It looks like the sawblade cut to the bone. We'd better get him to an emergency room as fast as possible, or he could lose his arm! Mom asked me to cut the meat to the bone.
2. To reduce or decrease something significantly. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cut" and "to." The arts program at my alma mater has been cut to the bone. Our department needs to cut our spending to the bone this quarter.
3. To wound someone emotionally. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cut" and "to." My mother-in-law's insulting comments really cut me to the bone—I'm still pretty upset. He can cut to the bone sometimes with his criticism, but it's always done with the intent of bettering your work.
See also: bone, cut

cut (or pare) something to the bone

reduce something to the bare minimum.
See also: bone, cut, something