"Cutting edge" is an English idiom used to describe something that is particularly advanced or brand new in terms of innovation. This idiom gained popularity in the 1950s and is still commonly used today to describe anything which is novel to the public. Literally, the idiom "cutting edge" is another way to describe the sharpest blade of an implement, like a plow, used to cut through things. The modern usage of the phrase often comes when someone is describing some sort of technological advance or artistic achievement that is different that anything that came before it.
Phrases and expressions that take on a meaning somewhat different than the literal definitions of the words that comprise them are known as idioms. Over time, idioms come to mean something that can be wildly divergent from the meaning of the phrase when it originated. Such phrases offer a way for speakers to strike a colloquial and colorful tone. Many idioms are used to describe things that are innovative and different. One of the most popular of these is the idiomatic expression "cutting edge."
If something is described in this manner, it often means that it using new technology that hasn't been experienced by the public at large before. Computer technology often gets labeled in this manner if it is new and unique. For example, consider the sentence, "I've never seen a laptop computer that can do all of those things; that is truly cutting edge technology." In this example, the phrase shows the extent to which the technology is exceptionally impressive and innovative.
This idiomatic expression is often used to describe someone or something in the artistic community. People who take in lots of pop culture such as movies, books, and television are often looking for things that they haven't seen or heard before, and those innovators who can deliver something new are often described in the glowing terms afforded by this expression. As an example, someone might say, "He has been making cutting edge films for so long that I can't wait to see how he'll surprise me with his next movie."
This phrase is also related to the adjective "edgy," which, in certain contexts, also describes something new and different. The phrase can also be extended, such as when someone describes something as being "on the cutting edge." No matter what version is used, this expression has evolved greatly from its original literal meaning as the sharpest part of a tool.