pay (one's) dues


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pay (one's) dues

1. Literally, to pay the requisite fees to enter into or remain in an organization. If you don't pay your dues every month, they will rescind your membership without warning.
2. By extension, to work hard, gain the necessary skills or experience, or suffer hardships (in order to earn a position, set of rights, the respect of others, etc.). I paid my dues working in the warehouse for 10 years before I got this job in the head office.
3. To serve the sentence given to one upon conviction of a crime. He paid his dues in the eyes of the law, so he shouldn't be facing any further punishment for his past crimes. A: "We can't re-hire you—you're a criminal!" B: "Hey, I spent nearly 15 years in prison. I've paid my dues!"
See also: due, pay
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

pay one's dues

 
1. Lit. to pay the fees required to belong to an organization. If you haven't paid your dues, you can't come to the club picnic. How many people have paid their dues?
2. Fig. to have earned one's right to something through hard work or suffering. He worked hard to get to where he is today. He paid his dues and did what he was told. I have every right to be here. I paid my dues!
See also: due, pay
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

pay one's dues

Earn something through hard work, long experience, or suffering. For example, She'd paid her dues in small-town shows before she finally got a Broadway part. This expression transfers the cost of being a paid-up member in an organization to that of gaining experience in an endeavor. [Mid-1900s]
See also: due, pay
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.

pay one’s dues

verb
See also: due, pay

pay one’s dues

tv. to serve one’s time in a menial role. (see also pay one’s dues (to society).) I spent some time as a bus boy, so I’ve paid my dues in the serving business.
See also: due, pay
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

pay (one's) dues

To earn a given right or position through hard work, long-term experience, or suffering: She paid her dues in small-town theaters before being cast in a Broadway play.
See also: due, pay
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

paid one's dues

Fulfilled one’s obligations; acquired experience the hard way. This mid-twentieth-century bit of American slang was adopted by jazz musicians, although it did not originate with them. It transfers the cost of being a paid-up member to the cost of gaining expertise in some field. Nat Hentoff defined the term in Jazz Life (1962): “‘Paying dues’ is the jazz musician’s term for the years of learning and searching for an individual sound and style while the pay is small and irregular.” However, the expression was already in print in a nonmusical context by 1943.
See also: due, paid
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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