Where did the expression “to cut the coat according to the cloth” come from and What does it mean?

A tailor, making such a coat, would pay no attention to the pattern in the cloth nor to warp or woof; he would make it out of whatever material there was at hand, taking advantage of every scrap, regardless of the appearance of the ultimate garment.

It is likely that tailors, and mothers, have been thus adapting themselves to circumstances, which is the meaning of the phrase, since Jacob made Joseph a patchwork coat of many colors, for the saying has great age.

It had become proverbial in England by the time Heywood compiled his Dialogue conteynyng Prouerbes and Epigramms in 1546, but no one can tell how much earlier it had been in common English speech.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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