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The word cut-throat belongs to an interesting subset of compound words found in the English language. We will look at the definition of the word cut-throat, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A cut-throat situation, competition or method describes one that is intensely competitive or ruthless, one in which no mercy is shown. Most often, cut-throat is used as an adjective, but it may be used as a noun to mean a murderer, someone who is liable to literally cut a throat. In this case, cut-throat is one of a category of compound words known as cutthroat compounds, which are words that name something or someone by describing what they do. Other examples of cutthroat compounds are spoilsport and scarecrow. Cut-throat is also an example of English words in transition. Originally rendered in the early 1500s as two separate words, the Oxford English Dictionary now lists the proper spelling as hyphenated. However, other dictionaries list the correct spelling as one word, as in cutthroat. This rendering is seen in the popular Food Network television show Cutthroat Kitchen and the cutthroat trout, a species of fish found in the western United States. The cutthroat trout is so named because of a red slash of color under its lower jaw.


Never has the County Championship been so cut-throat. (The Telegraph)

Yoga Girls reveals a never-before-seen side of yoga in a cutthroat city where the practice can sometimes lead to kicking some serious ‘asana.’” (Parade Magazine)

Jake Davis, area fisheries supervisor with the GF&P, said fisheries crews have encountered cutthroat trout in Spearfish, Whitewood and the north fork of Rapid creeks. (The Black Hills Pioneer)