cut both ways


cut both ways,
also, cut both ends


  • affect both sides of an argument or something equally.
  • have merits and demerits.
  • have unfavorable and favorable effects at the same time.
  • have a mixed effect—a good and a bad side to something.
  • a decision with both favorable and unfavorable results, or advantages and disadvantages.
  • have two different effects at the same time, usually one good and one bad.

Example Sentences

  1. The promotion I got means that I will earn more money, but I will also have less time with my family. It cuts both ways.
  2. A difficult childhood could cut two ends for a jury, with some jurors being sympathetic while others seeing the condition as evidence that the defendant may end up becoming a criminal.
  3. Bear in mind that if costs are shared, as you suggest, your division will also be obliged to reduce its budget. If we can’t take our supporters to the game, yours too will not go because the rule must cut both ways.
  4. The solution will cut both ends. Although it will take longer, it’s permanent.
  5. Watching TV cuts both ways; it makes people know what is really going on, but it also makes them lazy, addicted, and sick.


The 17th-century idiom “cut both ways” drops a hint at a double-edged sword without mentioning it directly. Once drawn from its sheath, the weapon could cut if driven forward or pulled back—like a saw. The idiom was first used in a book by Edmund Hickeringill titled Priest-Craft: Its Character and Consequences.

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Example given by a Facebook user on this Idiom:

Browsing Facebook cuts both ways, it makes us smarter, closer but lazy.

‒ Idiom Guru August 8, 2013

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