Author Topic: Cut a cheque  (Read 459 times)

Offline Obviousman

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Cut a cheque
« on: January 30, 2020, 02:56:01 PM »
To "cut a cheque". I still remember cheques but when that phrase came up the other day, I realised I had no idea where the expression came from.

Why 'cut'?

Any ideas?

Offline bknight

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2020, 09:17:33 PM »
In the companies that I have worked, the term would mean to cut into the funds to distribute to whom the check is written.
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Offline smartcooky

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2020, 05:45:39 AM »
Perhaps it comes from when cheques were machine printed in banks. Rather than stubs as we have now, cheques had a couple of carbon copies and those holes were literally cut with a series of holes that went right through the cheque and the carbon copies as an anti forging measure.
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Offline benparry

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2020, 06:49:22 AM »
As far as i know ( i work in finance to a reasonable level) it just means a company will agree to write a cheque to pay a supplier.

Offline JayUtah

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2020, 11:53:46 AM »
Perhaps it comes from when cheques were machine printed in banks. Rather than stubs as we have now, cheques had a couple of carbon copies and those holes were literally cut with a series of holes that went right through the cheque and the carbon copies as an anti forging measure.

Yes, perforated-numeral machines were used starting in the 1870s even for single-copy checks.  It served both purposes:  anti-forgery and creating multiple paper records of the transaction.  In the early 20th century this gave way to maceration printing which the printer both impregnated ink deep into the paper but also macerated the paper in the shape of the numeral.  If you tried to alter the numeral, the greatly-weakened paper would disintegrate.  In a related technique, there were checks where the denomination was indicated not by writing in numerals, which could be bleached and rewritten, but by punching the desired numeral in a set of columns.  A check with more than one numeral punched per column -- or with blank columns -- were deemed invalid.  I'd say any of these techniques stands a chance of being the origin of the phrase.

Even for printed checks, perforation methods were often used to cancel it -- i.e., mark it as Paid well into the middle of the 20th century.
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Offline Obviousman

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2020, 07:31:24 PM »
As far as i know ( i work in finance to a reasonable level) it just means a company will agree to write a cheque to pay a supplier.

Oh, I understand that but 'Cut'; why not 'Write' or 'Issue' or 'Draw'.  Just curious why that particular word managed to stay in use there.

Offline Peter B

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2020, 10:35:51 PM »
As far as i know ( i work in finance to a reasonable level) it just means a company will agree to write a cheque to pay a supplier.

Oh, I understand that but 'Cut'; why not 'Write' or 'Issue' or 'Draw'.  Just curious why that particular word managed to stay in use there.

The cheque books I'm familiar with had a line of perforations to simplify the job of removing each cheque from the book.

Perhaps before perforations were used you literally had to cut the cheque from the book with a pair of scissors...?

Offline Obviousman

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2020, 05:10:58 PM »
Perhaps before perforations were used you literally had to cut the cheque from the book with a pair of scissors...?

Hmmm - could be...

Offline benparry

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Re: Cut a cheque
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2020, 09:04:59 AM »
As far as i know ( i work in finance to a reasonable level) it just means a company will agree to write a cheque to pay a supplier.

Oh, I understand that but 'Cut'; why not 'Write' or 'Issue' or 'Draw'.  Just curious why that particular word managed to stay in use there.

Again as i understand it if it were a personal cheque from me to you it would be referred to as 'write' but i think because its a business cheque 'cut' is used. Don't ask me why cut is used but i think thats the difference anyway.