Sticker shock

Sticker shock is an American idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases and popular expressions that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom sticker shock, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Sticker shock is the surprise, disgust, or anger one feels when discovering an item is priced much higher than anticipated. Sticker shock is an American idiom that came into use around 1980 and was first used when discussing much higher automobile prices. In the United States, new cars have a large price sticker attached to a window that lists the amenities of the automobile and the charges associated with those features. Around 1980, many safety and energy-saving features became mandatory in American cars, which made the prices for those cars jump. Today, sticker shock can apply to any consumer item that is priced higher than anticipated.


Already buffeted by disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic, some residents venturing out to test the waters of the slowly reopening local economy may face another surprise: sticker shock. (The Bowling Green Daily News)

If you’ve been grocery shopping lately, you may be suffering from sticker shock. (The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Democrats had decided against putting federal aid on autopilot to avoid heightening sticker shock in their $3 trillion coronavirus spending package. (The Business Insider)

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