cut off at the pass, to

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cut someone off at the pass

Fig. to block someone's effort to get away; to thwart someone's efforts. They are ahead now, but we'll cut them off at the pass. Try to cut off the bandits at the pass!
See also: cut, off, pass
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

cut off at the pass, to

To stop or intercept. This expression comes from chase sequences in western movies of the 1930s and 1940s, in which pursuers (usually the “good” cowboys) would try to intercept their quarry (the outlaws) at a mountain pass. It gradually was extended to other endeavors. According to Brewer’s Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Phrase and Fable, in 1973 President Richard Nixon used the term on the Watergate tapes, saying that the charge of obstructing justice might be cut off at the pass.
See also: cut, off
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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