ransom

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king's ransom

A very large sum of money. I've always wanted to vacation in Hawaii, but the plane tickets cost a king's ransom.
See also: ransom

hold (one) to ransom

To demand something or some action from someone by threatening them with a harmful consequence if they do not comply. Threatening us with a fine if we don't participate in the survey is a bit like holding us to ransom, isn't it?
See also: hold, ransom

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

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

hold someone to ransom

BRITISH
COMMON If one person holds another to ransom, the first person uses their power or influence to force the second to do something they do not want to do. But who are the powerful men at the Bundesbank who have the power to hold Europe to ransom? Giorgio Armani, the fashion guru, refused to be held to ransom by greedy catwalk supermodels.
See also: hold, ransom

a king's ransom

mainly BRITISH
A king's ransom is an extremely large sum of money. She was paid a king's ransom for a five-minute appearance in the film. With so few skilled electricians available, these people can charge a king's ransom for their services.
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.