I was looking at a job offer:

[...] I am looking for a Developer who hacks code for pleasure, takes pride in their works and displays a keen interest in learning new technologies (boys toys). My client doesn’t care what language you use they pick the best tools for the job. Day to day work will be highly varied and across the entire stack.

The Java / Scala / Ruby developer will:

  • Cut code (a big surprise to many)
  • Release Management
  • Core software Development


What does it mean to "cut code"? And why would that be a big surprise?

Edit: as I can read from the comments, it looks like being quite a negative term, so why would they employ it in a job offer?

  • 12
    Weird. I've been a developer since 1987 and that is literally the first time I've ever seen that term.
    – Chris E
    Dec 10, 2014 at 14:40
  • 43
    You had a job advertisement that actually says boys toys? How disgusting. As a woman I would never work for these jerks. I would guess cut code means that refactoring and shortening the total lines of code is encouraged. Since it isn't most places that is why it would be a surprise.
    – HLGEM
    Dec 10, 2014 at 14:41
  • 46
    Honestly it just sounds like a non-technical person trying to be hip without knowing what it is they are really talking about.
    – NotMe
    Dec 10, 2014 at 14:43
  • 25
    @HLGEM +1 on the sexist tone of that ad. I'm a man and I wouldn't want to work for those jerks either. Dec 10, 2014 at 15:32
  • 21
    quant-capital.co.uk/jobs/java-ruby-python-developer - "Our client is an established financial data technology start up." what an oxymoron.
    – user1220
    Dec 10, 2014 at 16:23

5 Answers 5


The post is from a recruiter, and they chose their words poorly on multiple parts and in a variety of ways.

First of all, "cut code" is slang for "writing code" in the same way that some people refer to "cutting a check" (or "cheque" for the Brits). It is often considered a derisive term for a complex task, such as with this top Google search result. Basically it reduces the work of a software engineer to being comparable to cutting a vegetable. A chef might be similarly insulted if they were told their job was food slicing, or for that matter telling a Certified Public Accountant that their job is cutting checks.

I'll also add that this ad is supposedly by a HR recruiting professional who should know better, and yet referred to technology as "boys toys". Maybe the author didn't intend sexist sentiment, but a professional should know better than to indicate gender for a job that doesn't specifically require it - and if it does require/prefer it on part of the company, that casts the employer in a very bad light indeed.

They intended to say - I HOPE - that the job involves actually writing new code and developing solutions, working with cool cutting edge technologies (I know it says it's heavily a Java position and most of the tech is old Java enterprise stuff: can't blame a salesman for trying to sizzle things up a bit, I suppose, though they really probably shouldn't in this case - if you know Java you know what it's reputation is).

Also, the last section is terribly worded, where strict requirements are mixed in with descriptions of the ideal candidate.

If I was the writers boss, I'd give them some heavy coaching and instruction. If I was the company who hired the recruiter, I'd just fire them.

  • 22
    I think it's actually the opposite, removing (old, bad) code from the codebase.
    – Kevin
    Dec 10, 2014 at 17:32
  • 11
    @Kevin no its not
    – Pepone
    Dec 10, 2014 at 19:06
  • 12
    @Pepone why do you say that, especially with such certainty? Did you write the ad? Do you think it's a big surprise that a coder creates code?
    – Kevin
    Dec 10, 2014 at 19:07
  • 8
    @Kevin because I have been working in the it industry for over 3 decades your suggested meaning is not what this means at all
    – Pepone
    Dec 10, 2014 at 20:06
  • 6
    @Pepone, I have also been in software engineering or following software engineering for nearly 2 decades, and I'm not sure what they are trying to imply, the surprise could be refactoring and reducing a code base, otherwise the "big surprise" statement is strange/out of place...
    – daaxix
    Dec 10, 2014 at 21:43

Maybe they mean negative code? The idea would be that removing unnecessary lines of code (cutting code) is just as important as writing code.

Poor choice of words though if that is the intent.

  • 4
    I agree, this is most likely. I know I always enjoy those +100/-1000 commits.
    – Kevin
    Dec 10, 2014 at 17:31
  • 1
    Agreed, this is more likely what I get from the posting. To simplify and refactor, reducing the code base while retaining functionality. Dec 10, 2014 at 17:53
  • 1
    This is definitely what it means if it's anything like other postings I've seen. Dec 10, 2014 at 22:31
  • 3
    no it not can non native speakers please refrain from inventing what you think an English word means - this answer just makes stack overflow look amateur
    – Pepone
    Dec 11, 2014 at 8:46
  • 1
    @JMK it's clearly sarcasm, a developer's job is primarily writing code (that alone should be a massive clue as to the real meaning of the phrase)
    – Alex
    Dec 11, 2014 at 10:23

I have a different background (coming from audio/video production and broadcasting, originally), and to me "Cut code" sounds like they're trying to borrow a phrase from the music recording industry, "Cut a track," which was jargon/slang for a recording session. I took it to mean that the position actually writes code. The fact that readers' backgrounds changes the impression of the post so dramatically goes to show how important it is to eliminate slang and euphemisms in written communication.

However, the jocular and sexist nature of the rest of the post makes this seem like it came from a bunch of immature frat boys (Male college fraternity members, for our international members), and @HLGEM pretty much covered that in her comment.

Besides, when being misogynistic, they should really have their grammar correct. It should be: "... (boys' toys)."

I wouldn't even respond to this advertisement.

  • 5
    uh, it should really be boyz toyz
    – bharal
    Dec 10, 2014 at 15:57
  • Cutting code is a slangy term for writing code with the implication that its new code not maintenance work I suspect this is a uk term. though the jargon file has cut a tape meaning to ship code
    – Pepone
    Dec 10, 2014 at 20:11
  • On my first read, it sounded like a young female HR rep wrote it who was trying to appeal to the "boys" she figured were the main brunt of coders. I rarely hear males refer to their stuff as toys at all, let alone "boy's toys." Dec 10, 2014 at 20:46
  • 1
    @Namfuak, yeah it is pretty much insulting to both women and men.
    – HLGEM
    Dec 10, 2014 at 21:51
  • "Cut a track" - or a diamond? Dec 21, 2016 at 11:15

What does it mean to "cut code"? And why would that be a big surprise?

'Cutting' code is old-fashioned slang for 'writing' code.

Very old-fashioned... here's a corresponding entry in the Jargon File:

cut a tape: vi

To write a software or document distribution on magnetic tape for shipment. Has nothing to do with physically cutting the medium! Early versions of this lexicon claimed that one never analogously speaks of ‘cutting a disk’, but this has since been reported as live usage. Related slang usages are mainstream business's ‘cut a check’, the recording industry's ‘cut a record’, and the military's ‘cut an order’.

All of these usages reflect physical processes in obsolete recording and duplication technologies. The first stage in manufacturing an old-style vinyl record involved cutting grooves in a stamping die with a precision lathe. More mundanely, the dominant technology for mass duplication of paper documents in pre-photocopying days involved “cutting a stencil”, punching away portions of the wax overlay on a silk screen. More directly, paper tape with holes punched in it was an important early storage medium. See also burn a CD.

Edit: as I can read from the comments, it looks like being quite a negative term, so why would they employ it in a job offer?

Writing lines-of-code is seen (by some) as a drudge job for junior programmers. According to SOME people, "seniors" don't do that: they do release management, product management, customer management, project management... anything except write code.

If (or because) the job requires coding as perhaps its main or sine qua non activity, I suppose they feel they must say so explicitly in the job offer: to try to weed out people who aren't willing and/or able to.

And reading the rest of the ad it's not really a big surprise at all.

Saying "big surprise" is meant to be 'ironic' or something. They have to say "writing code" (because it's the main requirement). They're embarrassed to say it, or trying to say it as if it's cool. So they're adding that statement as a kind of "inside joke" (i.e. "you and me, we know about coding: unlike MANY, to whom the need for CODING may come as a BIG SURPRISE").

  • "Seniors... [do] anything except write code." To the contrary, there are many senior coding positions in many organizations. Yes, seniors are expected to have additional skills, such as designing and implementing more complex components, but many seniors often still write code.
    – atk
    Dec 10, 2014 at 23:40
  • 1
    Yes, that's why I put "seniors" in "air quotes": I have, I kid you not, occasionally met that attitude. Apparently some people (i.e. people for whom coding as a job requirement might be a big surprise) are "too senior" for such drudgery.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 10, 2014 at 23:46
  • 1
    Oh! I didn't catch the sarcasm when I originally read it :-)
    – atk
    Dec 10, 2014 at 23:48

My guess as a developer is that they mean they want you to refactor code. This means that you'll be rewriting existing code. The code they have probably has a lot of technical debt (ie sloppily written, not well thought-out or no longer suitable for business needs) and they want you to clean it up. Not a fun job but pretty common in all honesty.

  • Nope, as has been pointed out repeatedly, it just means coding (in a rather pathetic, "ain't we hip?" sort of way) Dec 21, 2016 at 11:16

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