for one's pains

for (one's) pains

In return or compensation for one's efforts, troubles, or work. Typically the compensation is not worth the effort put in or the trouble taken. When he retired from the force, all they gave him for his pains was a cheap wristwatch. I've tried to talk to my neighbors about it, but all I've gotten for my pains is the door slammed in my face.
See also: pain
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

for one's pains

In return for the trouble one has taken, as in And all he got for his pains was a failing grade. This expression is nearly always used ironically to indicate that the return was not appropriate to the effort made. [First half of 1500s]
See also: pain
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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