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you could cut it with a knife

Alluding to something very thick, such as muggy air or a heavy accent; also, a very tense atmosphere. For example, The smoke was so thick you could cut it with a knife, or When I walked in they all stopped talking and you could cut the air with a knife. [ ; late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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