King’s Ransom – Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

A king’s ransom means a very large amount of money or something of great value. If you’ve ever felt like you’d pay a fortune just to understand an idiom, well, here’s one that’s worth its weight in gold. This idiom came from the times of royalty being kidnapped for actual ransoms.

Idioms are phrases or expressions whose meaning cannot be understood from the ordinary meanings of their individual words. They make our speech richer and more colorful by adding nuance and universal understanding. But punctuation and context are everything with idioms, so keep reading to learn more about the meaning, origin story, and examples of correct usage of this phrase in a sentence.

Understanding King’s Ransom Meaning

Kings Ransom – Meaning and Origin

The phrase king’s ransom is mostly used hyperbolically to show something that’s extremely expensive or valuable, but you’re not expected to actually fork over a castle or two.

You could be talking about a diamond ring that costs an arm and a leg (another common idiom) or a rare book you’d pay top dollar for. Either way, this idiom gets the message across without bankrupting your vocabulary.

King’s Ransom or Kings Ransom?

Ah, the ever-so-confusing matter of apostrophes. In this case, the standard form is “king’s ransom” with an apostrophe, which shows that the ransom belongs to the king. Unless multiple kings are being ransomed off at once, stick to the single king, single apostrophe rule.

King’s Ransom Origin and Etymology

Kings ransom Ngram
King’s ransom usage trend.

This idiom has origins going back to the times of kings and queens, which is pretty obvious when you think about it. It was a common saying in the 1600s when kings were indeed kidnapped and large ransoms were demanded for their release. Think knights, battles, and coffers full of gold. This idiom captures the imagination and brings a touch of the regal to modern speech.

Synonyms for King’s Ransom

  • A fortune
  • An arm and a leg
  • A pretty penny
  • A small fortune
  • A tidy sum

Using ‘King’s Ransom’ in Sentence Examples

Kings Ransom – Meaning and Origin 1

  • Listen, I paid a king’s ransom for that vintage car, so I’ll treat it like another child if I want to.
  • Brandi and Matt’s wedding looked like it cost a king’s ransom, but she actually got everything secondhand and saved a ton of money.
  • “He’s asking for a king’s ransom in the divorce settlement,” she said and sighed.
  • The rare piece of art is valued at a king’s ransom.
  • “You could make a king’s ransom if you invest wisely,” the financial advisor told her.
  • That exclusive resort on Fogo Island charges a king’s ransom for just one night.
  • Candace earned a king’s ransom with her recent best-selling novel.
  • “Getting a front-row seat at the Taylor Swift concert will cost you a king’s ransom,” he warned.
  • I’d pay a king’s ransom for a chance to travel the world and write about it.
  • The popular software company sold for what can only be described as a king’s ransom.

How Much Is a King’s Ransom?

So, in the end, the idiom “king’s ransom” can be used to describe anything you feel is far too pricy. Now, you can go forth and enrich your conversations like a king lavishing gold on his subjects. And if you’re still itching for more idiomatic jewels to add to your crown of conversational gems, be sure to read over our other articles.