Phrase for today…It costs an arm and a leg, meaning very expensive.

Gold bars
Gold bars

The expression derived from two phrases: ‘I would give my right arm for…’ and ‘if it takes a leg’, which were both coined in the 19th century. The earliest example is from an 1849 edition of Sharpe’s London Journal: “He felt as if he could gladly give his right arm to be cut off if it would make him, at once, old enough to go and earn money instead of Lizzy.”

The second phrase is American and an early example of it is given in this heartfelt story from the Iowa newspaper the Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye, July 1875:”A man who owes five years subscription to the Gazette is trying to stop his paper without paying up, and the editor is going to grab that back pay if it takes a leg.”


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