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be (a bit) on the expensive side

To be somewhat expensive. This intentionally vague phrase highlights the speaker's awareness of or hesitation about the cost of something. That car service is a bit on the expensive side. Can't we just take a taxi?
See also: expensive, on, side

be on the [expensive/heavy/large etc.] side

to be a little too expensive, heavy, large etc. It's a really good restaurant - it's on the expensive side, mind. I really like the table but I think it's a bit on the large side for our room.
See also: on, side
References in classic literature ?
All this looked tolerably expensive, I thought, and gave me an agreeable notion of a proctor's business.
It was a smooth way of going on, perhaps, in respect of saving trouble; but it had the appearance of being expensive, for the servants felt it a duty they owed to themselves to be nice in their eating and drinking, and to keep a deal of company down stairs.
Who in this humble out-of-the-way cottage could afford to wear that exquisite cambric petticoat edged with a fine and very expensive lace?
The evening was now becoming dark, when a Jewish servant entered the apartment, and placed upon the table two silver lamps, fed with perfumed oil; the richest wines, and the most delicate refreshments, were at the same time displayed by another Israelitish domestic on a small ebony table, inlaid with silver; for, in the interior of their houses, the Jews refused themselves no expensive indulgences.
I had rather spend my ill-gotten wealth in this way than upon an expensive house and a retinue of servants.
They apprehended my breaking loose; that my diet would be very expensive, and might cause a famine.
But, on the other hand, judging from their appearance, most of them cannot be at all expensive.
He felt, no doubt, that there are limits to a joke, especially when it is so expensive and when the commissary of police has been informed, for, at the moment when we had made an appointment in our office with M.
And so many long, expensive months dragged by before any relief came to Sanders, that he was compelled, much against his will and his business judgment, to stretch his credit within an inch of the breaking-point to help Bell and the telephone.
Nathless, the tinker asked for it, since it was expensive and the other man had invited him to drink.
The result from these observations is that the sources of additional expense from the establishment of the proposed Constitution are much fewer than may have been imagined; that they are counterbalanced by considerable objects of saving; and that while it is questionable on which side the scale will preponderate, it is certain that a government less expensive would be incompetent to the purposes of the Union.
Nor must we forget to add, in enumerating the advantages of the more expensive system, that it tends, though slightly yet perceptibly, to the diminution of the redundant Isosceles population -- an object which every statesman in Flatland constantly keeps in view.
I am told that the Petersburg climate is bad for me, and that with my small means it is very expensive to live in Petersburg.
Her leggings and moccasins are of the most beautiful and expensive workman-ship, and fitted neatly to the foot and ankle, which with the Indian woman are generally well formed and delicate.
Still there was an uneasy worldly glancing of the eye, that denoted how much she lived out of herself, in the less favorable understanding of the term; an expression of countenance that I have had occasion to remark in most of those who think a very expensive handkerchief necessary to their happiness.