The Cut Direct: The Fiercest Etiquette Punishment

Go watch Charlie the Unicorn if you never have.

Did you guys know that there is something that you can do when someone is so unspeakably rude that you can no longer bear to be in their presence? It is only to be used in the most dire of etiquette circumstances because it is a very cruel thing to do someone who doesn’t deserve it. You can cut someone (not with a knife!). Basically you completely ignore them to their face. A version of the silent treatment, as it were. If you look straight at someone, especially at their greeting, and do not acknowledge them in any way, then you are cutting them.

The cut direct goes back a long time- it developed during the Regency period (Jane Austen times) and could be much more socially devastating than just one person ignoring another. There were also a lot of rules that went along with it:

  • To be a true cut, the cutter had to be so deliberate and obvious about it that the cuttee could have no doubt about what was happening.
  • A gentleman was never to cut a lady, no matter what she had done.
  • Gentlemen had to be particularly careful about cutting other gentlemen, as the snub could lead to the challenge of a duel.
  • Unmarried ladies were not to cut married ladies.
  • Hosts could not cut their guests (why had they invited them in the first place?)
  • Social leaders had to be very cautious in using it, as their use of it could very well destroy a person socially (if you are completely ostracized from Society, then you ruin all of your marriage prospects and/or your children’s marriage prospects, and since at the time, marriage was a consolidation of wealth and power- then you would have none. Not to mention having no friends and basically no where to go and nothing to do.) Famously, the Prince of Wales cut Beau Brummel publicly and it actually backfired on him because Beau hadn’t really done anything dreadful and everyone felt that the Prince was abusing his power shamefully.

A cut direct must be employed only when someone has done something truly horrible and everyone in your social circle knows it. Otherwise it will make you look petty and cruel.

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One thought on “The Cut Direct: The Fiercest Etiquette Punishment

  1. Pingback: #766, #767, #768: Awkward friendships, ahoy! | Captain Awkward

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