cut to the bone

Idioms & Phrases

cut to the bone

Severely reduced, as in During the Depression Grandmother's housekeeping money was cut to the bone. The phrase to the bone, literally meaning "through the flesh to the inmost part or core," dates from about 1400. This expression in effect means that everything extraneous has been cut away so that only bone remains.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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