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
References in periodicals archive ?
Character flaws become exaggerated; characters who believe they hold the upper hand become unyielding: first Shylock, who will be satisfied only by his pound of flesh, then Portia, who will be satisfied only by Shylock's complete ruin.
Sadly they, like Mr Assange, are finding the established order wants its pound of flesh for daring to disturb Mr and Mrs Wales/Cornwall/Windsor and their precious Rolls, an event which gave me the biggest laugh of the year
When their friend Antonio's debt to Shylock on Bassanio's behalf cannot be paid, Shylock attempts to claim a pound of flesh.
It tells us this book is about Jews who got their pound of flesh.
His hatred for the merchant Antonio is so great that he persists in obtaining a pound of flesh as forfeit for his bond, until he is outwitted by Portia in the Venetian court.
As the Government won't give them any, let's get another pound of flesh from the unemployed.
Now that we finally have a price reduction, garages are threatening to put their customers off the road to obtain their pound of flesh.
Surely he must have known the unions would one day demand their pound of flesh.
Cole will be docked a fortnight's wages, around PS240,000, when Chelsea throw the book at the wayward social networker and the FA will want their pound of flesh, too.
WELSH film-makers are hoping to claim their own pound of flesh from the horror genre with a new addition to the Living Dead zombie series.
According to their record company it's "an agitable, tense and tetchy melodic laceration of neo/new/no/non/post/wave, an anthemic torchbearing, porch-burning anti-opera fuelled by a rash of thrash and a pound of flesh.
I had my pound of flesh in the dressing room and I'll have another pound when we get back in training today.
1 FEEL myself getting behind a retired general (Peter Savill's column, February 28) and wanting to join his ranks vis a vis the government seeking its pound of flesh when it has no right to sell the Tote.
Now that it is out in the open every gobs***e in the game will be looking for his pound of flesh and the one who doesn't get it will be wondering how much the guy beside him is on.