pound of flesh

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pound of flesh

A debt or punishment, especially a cruel or unreasonable one, that is harshly insisted upon. An allusion to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in which the moneylender Shylock demands he be paid the pound of flesh promised as collateral for a loan. The victim of the incident, while only sustaining superficial injuries, is demanding his pound of flesh from the nightclub owner following the court ruling. Be very careful about taking out loans that you can't repay right away, or you will have collectors coming after you for a pound of flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

*pound of flesh

Fig. a payment or punishment that involves suffering and sacrifice on the part of the person being punished. (*Typically: give someone ~; owe someone ~; pay someone ~; take ~.) He wants revenge. He won't be satisfied until he takes his pound of flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

pound of flesh

A debt whose payment is harshly insisted on, as in The other members of the cartel all want their pound of flesh from Brazil. This expression alludes to the scene in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (4:1) where the moneylender Shylock demands the pound of flesh promised him in payment for a loan, and Portia responds that he may have it but without an ounce of blood (since blood was not promised). [c. 1600]
See also: flesh, of, pound

your pound of flesh

If someone demands their pound of flesh, they insist on getting something they have a right to, even though they might not need it and it will cause problems for the people they are getting it from. Banks are quick to demand their pound of flesh from the small businessman who goes even slightly into debt. She has appeared on breakfast television to offer support (in exchange for heaven knows what pound of flesh from her husband). Note: This expression comes from Shakespeare's play `The Merchant of Venice' (Act 4, Scene 1). Shylock is owed money by Antonio, and attempts to carry out an agreement which allows him to cut off a pound of Antonio's flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

your pound of flesh

an amount you are legally entitled to, but which it is morally offensive to demand.
The allusion here is to Shylock's bond with the merchant Antonio in Shakespeare 's The Merchant of Venice and to the former's insistence that he should receive it, even at the cost of Antonio's life.
See also: flesh, of, pound

(have, demand, claim, etc.) your pound of ˈflesh

(take, demand, etc.) the full amount that somebody owes you, even if this will cause them trouble or suffering: They want their pound of flesh; they want every penny we owe them by next Monday.I didn’t realize working here was going to be such hard work. They really demand their pound of flesh, don’t they?This phrase comes from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, in which the moneylender Shylock demanded a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body if he could not pay back the money he borrowed.
See also: flesh, of, pound