Cut someone some slack

If you give someone the freedom to behave in an unsatisfactory way and you do not criticize them, then you cut them some slack.  This does not mean that you are encouraging their behavior. Rather, it just means that you have decided not to judge their actions as harshly as usual.

We usually cut someone some slack when they are going through a difficult time in their life and could benefit from some flexibility. We use this expression when we allow someone to behave in a way that is below our normal expectations. For example:

  • I was an hour late for work today, but my boss cut me some slack because I worked until 4:00am last night.
  • If you make minor mistakes during your first week at a new job, people are likely to cut you some slack.

A. Maria seems a bit unfocused today. Do you know why?
B. I would cut her some slack today. Her dog passed away this week.

Did you know? This expression means “to loosen a tight restriction” and is related to the loosening of a tight rope. In sailing, for example, when you cut someone some slack, you give them some more rope to work with.