to pay through the nose

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Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) to pay less than expected

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b) to pay an excessive amount

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To pay through the nose means to pay an exorbitant amount of money (for something), especially more than is fair or reasonable.

The origin of this term has been lost. It may allude to the Danish nose tax, imposed in Ireland in the 9th century, whereby delinquent taxpayers were punished by having their noses slit.

French translation

payer une fortune, payer un bras

How NOT to translate into French : *payer par le nez

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Examples in the press

‘COVID-19 test providers reap profits as consumers pay through the nose

Makers of COVID-19 testing tools are raking in billions while many consumers pay through the nose to find out if they are infected.

Over-the-counter rapid tests have been pricey since they first became available in the U.S., with major retailers like Kroger and Walmart recently hiking the price tag for kits even as manufacturers ramp up production to meet a surge in demand driven by the Omicron variant.’

CBS News, 12 Jan. 2022
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‘States paying through the nose for debt as cost soars past 7.16%

The cost of debt-funds for the states has touched the highest level so far this fiscal with the weighted average cut-off crossing the 7.16 percentage points at the latest auctions, up 11 bps over the past week, reflecting the hardening yields even for the government securities. The hardening of the rates at the first auction of the quarter comes in the wake of the expected large supply of debt from the states, as indicated for Q4 at Rs 3.2 lakh crore, up by Rs 10,000 crore.’

The Economic Times, 5 Jan. 2022

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Everyday usage

We paid through the nose for our latest holiday in Denmark.

My last smartphone was stolen. I’m miffed I had to pay through to nose to get a new one.

EnglishTonic and Claramedia, 11 February 2022

c) to pay the right price

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