hold (one) to ransom

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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

hold someone to ransom

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, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

hold someone or something to ransom

1 hold someone prisoner and demand payment for their release. 2 demand concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

hold somebody to ˈransom

1 hold somebody as a prisoner until money has been paid for their release: The kidnappers held the little girl to ransom for more than eight hours.
2 try to force somebody to do what you want by using threats: The government said that the workers were holding the country to ransom by demanding a ten per cent pay rise.
See also: hold, ransom, somebody
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
Obviously this is not only a moment to celebrate perhaps a cleaner environment but also a breakaway from the oil rich nations that have held us to ransom for generations.
This man has held us to ransom for more than a decade.
In particular, we could not justify to our supporters any coalition with the far-left "Independents" or the LibDems who voted for the release of so much of our Green Belt for industry, and who would have held us to ransom over the issue.
"They basically held us to ransom. I was ill with stress.
Have they forgotten the ERM, where the Germans held us to ransom with the Bundesbank, and the cowardly French?
"They are saying that they are going to hold her to ransom just like Airtours have held us to ransom. But I am taking nothing to do with that.
The boat budget was massive, but we knew that was going to be the case in advance, and nobody ever held us to ransom, on or off the water.
But you are supposed to play by the rules and he's held us to ransom.
Liam said: "They held us to ransom. The bill seemed to get bigger and bigger.
Liam, from Tallaght, Dublin, told the Irish Daily Mirror: "We wouldn't have done the appeal if they had not held us to ransom.
He said: "I am very angry they have held us to ransom.