Pay through the nose

Photo of author


Pay through the nose is an idiom which means to pay more than something is worth, to pay an exorbitant price. The origin of the phrase pay through the nose is quite murky, though it seems to be associated in some way to the paying of taxes. When the Danes conquered Ireland in the ninth century, they took a census by “counting noses”. Exorbitant taxes were imposed on each “nose”, thus one had to pay through the nose. There is a myth that anyone who did not pay his nose tax had his nose slit in punishment, though there is little support for this addendum to the story. Related terms are pays through the nose, paid through the nose, paying through the nose.


Some guidebooks will send you to restaurants that are tourist attractions in their own right — and where you’ll pay through the nose. (The Seattle Times)

Whether they did or did not pay through the nose to lease a luxury spread at One Madison, property records are quite clear that in February of this year (2016) the couple shelled out $5,426,000 for a Hudson River-facing three-bedroom and 3.5 bathroom condo in a newly built boutique building tucked into the coveted northern tip of the terrifically trendy and tremendously expensive Tribeca neighborhood. (Variety)

But we should not forget that they pay through the nose for the privilege of watching their team disappoint them in depressingly familar fashion.  (The Telegraph)

Our DISCOs have increased the darkness, and are making me pay through the nose for this privilege. (The Nation)

Uber just paid through the nose to buy labor peace in California and Massachusetts, and it may have to cut similar deals in other states before long. (Fortune Magazine)

Boston already pays through the nose for transportation, taking money that could be used for education. (The Boston Globe)