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Difference between Cut someone off and Cut someone off at the pass

cut someone off

1. (also: cut someone off short) interrupt a person:

  • The doctor came in and started to explain the procedure, but I cut him off.

2. (usually Passive) isolate or separate a person (from smth.):

  • We were cut off by the incoming sea and nearly drowned.

3. (usually Passive) kill a person:

  • Mary was gone, cut off in the prime of life, in the glow of beauty.

cut someone off at the pass

1. intercept a person:

  • When I noticed he was leaving I figured I would cut him off at the pass and have him sign an autograph.

2. foil smb.’s plans or efforts:

  • The good guys intend to blow up a fort. Will they succeed or be cut off at the pass?