for one's pains

for (one's) pains

In return or compensation for one's efforts, troubles, or work. Almost always used to indicate that the compensation is not worth the effort put in or the trouble taken. When I retired from the force, all they gave me for my pains was a cheap wristwatch.
See also: pain

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