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pare (something) to the bone
To reduce or decrease something significantly. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pare" and "to." The arts program at my alma mater has been pared to the bone. Our department needs to pare our spending to the bone this quarter.
1. Literally, to shave off small pieces of something to make it smaller. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pare" and "down." You need to pare down your nails—they're like little daggers! If you pare the boards down on either side, they should fit into the space.
2. To reduce or decrease something in small increments. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pare" and "down." We've had to continually pare down out expenses ever since one of our investors pulled out. See if you can pare your report down a bit—15 pages is far too long.
1. To remove something (from a larger portion or something else) by snipping, trimming, or shaving. A noun or pronoun can be used between "pare" and "off." He sat on the porch quietly paring off the skin from the apple. We need to pare a bit of wood off to make these table legs even.
2. To snip, trim, or shave something off something. A noun or pronoun is used between "pare" and "off." I just want to pare these overgrown leaves off the shrub. The statue looks a little uneven—could you pare a bit off the left side?
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
pare something down (to something)
to cut someone down to something or a smaller size. I will have to pare the budget down to the minimum. I hope we can pare down the budget. After much arguing, we pared it down.
pare something off (of) somethingand pare something off
to cut something off something.(Of is usually retained before pronouns.) See if you can pare a bit of this extra wood off the edge of the base of this pillar. Pare off some of the wood.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
cut, pare, etc. something to the ˈbonereduce something to the point where no further reduction is possible: We have cut the costs of the business to the bone, but they are still too high for us to make any profit.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To reduce the size of something by cutting or shaving off its outer layers; trim something: I pared down the tiles so that they would fit snugly together. The pegs were too big for the hole, so I pared them down with a pocketknife.
2. To reduce the size or amount of something by gradually taking away parts of it: We should pare down the supplies we keep in our storage room until we have only what we absolutely need. The article was too long, and it took me a long time to pare it down.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.