An arm and a leg

Photo of author


The term an arm and a leg means an extreme amount of money, tremendously expensive. Cost an arm and a leg, pay an arm and a leg, worth an arm and a leg, are all valid phrases describing the buying and selling of an article that costs the consumer a dear price. An arm and a leg seems to have first appeared in America after World War II, presumably in reference to the many returning soldiers with amputated limbs. Many newspapers reported on soldiers who had lost an arm and a leg in an effort to make the world safe. However, prior to this time we find two phrases from which the phrase an arm and a leg may have been derived: 1.) I would give my right arm, meaning I would be willing to give up something as dear as my arm in order to obtain something 2.) If it takes a leg, which means I would go as far as giving a leg in exchange for what I want. Both of these idioms were common in the nineteenth century.


Even better, the company’s motors cost the same as standard motors, so grocery chains aren’t paying an arm and a leg for the essential cooling tech. (Fortune)

”The change in this baby was just remarkable and that was what spurred me to think ‘actually, that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to do that” (The Otago Daily Times)

“The price of oats is pretty high,” he said. “And the vet charges an arm and a leg.” (The Boston Globe)

“It’s a great way for folks to support the kids without it costing them an arm and a leg,” Collins said. (The Red Bluff Daily News)

“If you want to go out on a Tuesday because you don’t feel like cooking, you can not spend an arm and a leg and still have a nice place to dine out,” he said. (The Burlington Free Press)


Help Us Improve!

Help Us Improve!

- Did we make a mistake?
- Do you have feedback or suggestions on how we can improve?