Context: Doctor asks me to cut smoking.

Dictionary says that cut when being used by itself means to reduce (in size/amount). However, it could also mean to remove (parts from a film, book, speech).

I also did a quick google search on "cut smoking" and "cut the habit". I found that cut is being taken to mean either reduce smoking/habit or to kick a habit (as in totally drop it)

So my question is can the word cut be taken to mean either reducing kicking? or does it strictly only mean reducing and kicking is a wrong usage?


  • Reduce smoking is still smoking though to a lesser extent. I’d assume a doctor would recommend cut (stop) smoking definitely, though gradually.
    – user 66974
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 16:28
  • 1
    A doctor wouldn't say that, because the advice is vague. He or she would say, "cut out" and mean "eliminate", or "cut down" to refer to lessening the amount of smoking. English really isn't about weirdo sentences that could mean multiple things. Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 0:48
  • So can i then conclude that "Cut Smoking" could mean both reduce smoking and eliminate smoking completely? Hence, i should i always use it with preposition such as cut back on (reduce) and cut out (eliminate) to bring clarity?
    – Zheng
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 6:05
  • 1
    OP, basically yes. When the sentence is vague, don't use it. Clarify it -- in this case, with prepositions. Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


To cut in this context means to cut out as in remove or eliminate smoking. In the context of film making or TV the word cut is just that. There is also to cut down which is to reduce. Since it is often hard to quit smoking then reduction is all that can be achieved. The phrase "Kick the habit" was used to encourage smokers to quit. It has since been used to mean stop or quit whatever habit or problem you may have.

Best source I could find https://www.theidioms.com/kick-the-habit/

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