King’s ransom

The idiom a king’s ransom has been in use for hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom a king’s ransom, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A king’s ransom is an enormous amount of money, a sum of money that is exceedingly large. The idiom a king’s ransom is used today to mean that one has paid a large amount for something. Like many idioms, the phrase a king’s ransom is derived from a literal meaning. In the Middle Ages, captives or prisoners of war were often ransomed for their freedom. In most cases, the only person rich enough to pay the ransom was the king. The idea is that an outrageous sum was demanded in exchange for the captive–a king’s ransom. The idiom came into use by the early 1500s.

Examples

He was upset that Jets general manager Joe Douglas listened to calls about him before the Oct. 29 trade deadline, but the Jets were asking for a king’s ransom from the Cowboys. (Newsday)

Tough although it may be, the Indians deal Francisco Lindor for a king’s ransom that improves the lineup’s depth. (Forbes Magazine)

“Adam Neumann will essentially get a king’s ransom for grossly mismanaging the company on his way out,” said Amy Borrus, deputy director of the Council of Institutional Investors. (The Washington Post)

But if one employee’s tweet is all it takes to blow up the deal, and suddenly cut off that king’s ransom of future profits, the Chinese market just isn’t worth it. (The National Review)