Price gouging

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Price gouging is a term that originated in the 1900s. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase price gouging, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Price gouging is the practice of raising the price for goods or services above a fair or reasonable price. Price gouging primarily occurs during an emergency. For instance, if a town is devastated by a natural disaster and entrance to the town is difficult or impossible to navigate, then the prices for food and water generally rise according to their scarcity. The amount of money it took to produce the food or water is still the same, it is the demand for the items that causes the price to rise. Price gouging may also refer to raising the price for an essential item to achieve a ridiculously large profit, often because there are no competing items in the market. For instance, many drug companies in the United States are accused of charging too much for life-saving medicines. Price gouging is illegal in most areas of the United States because it interferes with the preservation of civil order during a time of emergency. The word gouging to mean to cheat someone or to swindle someone came into use in the 1830s, but the idiom price gouging didn’t come into use until about one hundred years later.


Governor Gavin Newsom has extended protections against price gouging after the Camp Fire in Butte County for a year in light of ongoing rebuilding and resettling. (The Chico Enterprise-Record)

The firms successfully had fines of nearly £90 million ($116 million) overturned last year, after the punishments were initially issued by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016 over alleged price gouging. (The Pharma Letter)

More savings will be arrive as the law continues to phase in, offering choice on personal injury protection coverage limits, fighting fraud, and reining in price gouging for medical services. (The Daily Telegram)

Responding to growing concerns over shortages and price gouging involving medical cannabis, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration warned Monday that he will crack down on any “bad actors” who may violate laws meant to protect patients. (The Chicago Tribune)