What Is the Meaning of the Phrase “A Cut Above” and How Did the Expression Originate?

“A cut above” dates from the eighteenth century and literally means the quality of the cutting or fashioning of a person’s clothing.

The superior appearance or station in life of someone with a good tailor or milliner is obvious when compared with a common man or woman, making them a “cut above” the ordinary.

The phrase is related to the nautical phrase “The cut of her jib,” meaning the style or cut of a ship’s sails.

You can also be a “cut below,” as in “The girl herself is a cut below par” (A.B. Walford, 1891).