to the quick

to the quick

1. To the exposed flesh, especially that which is tender. I've bitten my fingernails to the quick, and still, I can't stop myself!
2. To the deepest, most fragile part of oneself. Typically used to describe emotional wounds. I can't even look at her right now—that hurtful remark cut me right to the quick.
See also: quick
References in classic literature ?
My heart stood still at the thought, but mind and muscle responded to the quick decision I was forced to make.