cut and dried

cut and dried

Meaning | Synonyms

  • ready-made
  • predetermined and not changeable
  • something that was decided in advance and cannot be changed
  • a situation that lacks any sort of spontaneity or flexibility

Example Sentences

  1. The rules in our school are cut and dried. Everyone is expected to follow them.
  2. It seems to be a cut-and-dried story; social activists and media come together to do something helpful.
  3. Although most parties have agreed on the deal, it is not yet cut and dried.
  4. Everything will not be cut and dried there for you after moving to a new country.


The phrase has been modified in recent years. People often use “cut and dry” instead. It has, however, retained its meaning.

The phrase originally alludes to the dried herbs that you could purchase from a shop. They lacked freshness and spontaneity, which differs from the fresh herbs that you could grow yourself. It is also rumoured to date back to the time when wood was cut and dried in order to make fire with it. It was very rigid and inflexible. In most cases the phrase has a negative connotation.

One of the first uses of the phrase was by a clergyman in 1710 in which the writer commented that the sermon was “ready cut and dried.”

It was also mentioned in a poem by Jonathan Swift in 1730:

“Sets of Phrases, cut and dry, / Evermore thy Tongue supply”

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