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hold someone for ransom

to demand money for the return of a person who has been kidnapped. The kidnappers held me for ransom, but no one would pay. We will hold Timmy for ransom and hope that the police don't find us.
See also: hold, ransom

*king's ransom

Fig. a great deal of money. (To pay an amount as large as one might have to pay to get back a king held for ransom. *Typically: cost ~; pay ~; spend~.) I would like to buy a nice watch, but I don't want to pay a king's ransom for it. It's a lovely house. I bet it cost a king's ransom.
See also: ransom

a king's ransom

a large amount of money A visit to one of those amusement parks can cost a king's ransom.
Usage notes: often used with worth or cost, as in the example
See also: ransom

hold somebody to ransom

to force someone to do something by putting them in a situation where something bad will happen to them if they do not Some people regarded the miners' strike as the union holding the nation to ransom.
See also: hold, ransom

a king's ransom

a very large amount of money (not used with the ) She was wearing a diamond necklace which must have been worth a king's ransom.
See also: ransom

king's ransom

A huge sum of money, as in That handmade rug must have cost a king's ransom. This metaphoric expression originally referred to the sum required to release a king from captivity. [Late 1400s]
See also: ransom
References in periodicals archive ?
Hours after Ramelli and Marzullo stepped off a plane in Rome, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told the lower house of Parliament the reports of a ransom "were void of any basis in reality" and expressed surprise "that these sources were given credit without any verification.
Italian politicians welcomed the liberation of two Italian aid volunteers held hostage in Syria but their release drew criticism over a possible ransom payment.
But Mayor Hussin Amin of Jolo, the capital of Sulu province, called for an investigation of the alleged involvement of Philippine officials in the payment of the ransom money.
Mohammed Tamish, a tribesman from Al-Baida, said that tribal armed men arrive from villages in the governorate to Al-Baida city to kidnap officials, and demand a ransom in return.
The Prime Minister told the Commons he has no doubts that millions of dollars raised by Islamic State from ransom payments is used to promote terrorism affecting the UK.
The official line is that Germany doesn't pay ransoms.
For the first time the Council calls on Member States to work with the private sector to respond to terrorist kidnappings without paying ransoms.
Summary: Non-governmental group attempting to secure release of ailing South African man kidnapped in Yemen says it has received fresh ransom demand.
BEIRUT: Two kidnapped men were freed overnight Wednesday in separate cases in northern and central Bek Valley after their ransoms were paid.
The Taliban abducted a teacher, named Arif, from his house last week and demand 200,000 afghanis ($4,300) in ransom," a resident of the Sherbaik area in Qush Tepa district told Pajhwok Afghan News.
WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday warned against paying out ransoms to win the freedom of hostages kidnapped by Al-Qaeda's branch in northern Africa, saying the practice bolsters the militants.
Pirates from impoverished Somalia, which is battling an Islamist insurgency, have stepped up attacks in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.
Somali pirates, targeting one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes, raked in an estimated 60 million dollars in ransoms last year.
Typically, the heavily armed Somali pirates hold captured ships and their crews hostage until ransoms are paid.