892 Cutthroats

Through the ripples of the article by Stan Carey about my research, I’ve been receiving many new cutthroats from the good people of the internet. Commenters fear that they are calling my attention to a cutthroat I already know about, so this is the temporary solution as I continue work on my SHEL/DSNA presentation.

The attached PDF lists 892 words that I’ve been considering off and on as cutthroats. I question the membership of many of these words. Later, when there is time, I will provide a similar list with earliest dates of appearance, general categories (person, tool, game, animal, plant, adj, other), and specific definitions.

Cutthroats are written variably with a space, no space, or hyphen, so check all listings for each verb if you’re looking for a certain entry. If you don’t see one on the list, please tell me about it here in the comments, or tweet @E_Briannica.

The words are divided into 9 columns, 2 pages each, based on the following verbs that begin the compounds:

  • Amuse through Choke
  • Choke through Fetch
  • Fill through Knit
  • Knit through Muck
  • Muddle through Rattle
  • Reel through Shun
  • Shut through Stick
  • Stike through Trouble
  • Trouble through Xpel

NSFW: The list contains vulgar words not suitable for workplace browsing.

List of 892

Note: I have not yet integrated the cutthroats found by David-Antoine Williams’ oed.com script, listed in his Life of Words post. There is much work to be done.


  1. Paul Nance

    Killdeer (popular name for Charadrius vociferus) looks like a cutthroat, but is not. Are there others like it?

  2. D-AW

    Super. Let me know if/when you’d like the dates for the OED comb form list I posted – I’m sure it will take me less time to get them than it would take you to do it by hand, and you can antedate with other sources at your pleasure.

  3. Hugo

    Hardly the be-all and end-all, but I wrote a script to find some more potential cutthroats. Here’s those not already in the 892:

    * be-all
    * cease-fire
    * counter-revolution
    * counter-sabotage
    * cross-classification
    * cross-division
    * cross-eye
    * cross-purpose
    * cross-question
    * cross-stitch
    * dangle-berry
    * dash-pot
    * do-good
    * drop-leaf
    * end-all
    * fuss-budget
    * knock-knee
    * make-work
    * shut-eye
    * squint-eye
    * sweep-second

    More info: http://laivakoira.typepad.com/blog/2015/05/cutthroat-verb-nouns.html

    • Hugo

      Of these 11 cutthroats from 1801, GET-PENNY is new:


      Interesting the writer says they were so accustomed with cutthroats that flap-fly — an instrument for flapping away flies — should really be a cutthroat flap-fly, or fly-flapper.

      OED seems to be a give-error right now, but GET-PENNY dates to at least 1631 in Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fayre, talking about the success of plays:

      “Jerusalem was a stately thing; and so was Niniue, and the citty of Norwich, and Sodom and Gomormrah; with the rising o’the prentises; and pulling downe the bawdy houses there, upon Shroves Tuesday; but the Gunpowder-plot, there was a get-penny ! I have presented that to an eighteene, or twenty pence audience, nine times in an afternoone.”


      • Hugo

        That 1801 magazine is reviewing A supplement to Johnson’s English dictionary: of which the palpable errors are attempted to be rectified, and its material omissions supplied (1801).

        Some computer analysis throws up

        * hold-door
        * kill-courtesy
        * lack-love
        * pitch-farthing
        * wave-loaf
        * wave-offering

        Of which, hold-door isn’t on the list of 892. Mason defines it:

        HO’LD-DOOR. adj. Assisting amorous intercourse.

        Brethren and sisters of the hold-door trade !

        Shaks. Tro. and Cressida.

        The quote is from Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (1602).

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