Learn English – the origin of the phrase “cut and dried”


How did the phrase "cut and dry" come to mean clearly decided or settled in advance? Sometimes referenced as "cut and dried". Also used when when referring to something that is ordinary.

If something is "cut and dry", it is said to be completed without debate, question, or argument.

Example: The rule about running near the pool was cut and dry, but the boy broke the rule and ran anyway.

Best Answer

The standard expression is cut and dried, though usages such as That's pretty cut and dry have started to appear more in recent decades, as this NGram shows.

It's a metaphoric reference to grass/hay/herbs/etc. being cut, dried, and thus ready for sale/use (nothing more needs to be done). By extension it comes to mean no more discussion needs to take place. By further extension, no decision or thought is required at all (the ordinary default suffices).

OP's example isn't a very appropriate one. Most people would say the rule was clear-cut (overt, explicit, unambiguous), not cut and dried (fully decided upon, finalised, settled).