pound of flesh, a

pound of flesh

A debt or punishment, especially a cruel or unreasonable one, that is harshly insisted upon. An allusion to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in which the moneylender Shylock demands he be paid the pound of flesh promised as collateral for a loan. The victim of the incident, while only sustaining superficial injuries, is demanding his pound of flesh from the nightclub owner following the court ruling. Be very careful about taking out loans that you can't repay right away, or you will have collectors coming after you for a pound of flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

*pound of flesh

Fig. a payment or punishment that involves suffering and sacrifice on the part of the person being punished. (*Typically: give someone ~; owe someone ~; pay someone ~; take ~.) He wants revenge. He won't be satisfied until he takes his pound of flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

pound of flesh

A debt whose payment is harshly insisted on, as in The other members of the cartel all want their pound of flesh from Brazil. This expression alludes to the scene in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (4:1) where the moneylender Shylock demands the pound of flesh promised him in payment for a loan, and Portia responds that he may have it but without an ounce of blood (since blood was not promised). [c. 1600]
See also: flesh, of, pound

pound of flesh, a

One’s exact dues; the precise amount owed, no matter what. The term comes from the famous trial scene of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (4.1), in which the moneylender Shylock demands that the pound of flesh that was promised him in payment for lending Antonio money be handed over. He is, of course, foiled by Portia, who says he may have his pound of flesh but it may not include an ounce of blood (since no blood is due him). Ever since, this expression has been used as a metaphor for exacting payment, usually in a vengeful way.
See also: of, pound