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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?
hold (someone) for ransom
To kidnap someone and keep them until someone else pays a demanded sum of money (a "ransom"). The kidnappers are holding my son for ransom—I'll pay any amount they want!
A very large sum of money. I've always wanted to vacation in Hawaii, but the plane tickets cost a king's ransom.
hold someone for ransom
to demand money for the return of a person who has been kidnapped. The kidnappers held me for ransom, but no one would pay. We will hold Timmy for ransom and hope that the police don't find us.
Fig. a great deal of money. (To pay an amount as large as one might have to pay to get back a king held for ransom. *Typically: cost ~; pay ~; spend~.) I would like to buy a nice watch, but I don't want to pay a king's ransom for it. It's a lovely house. I bet it cost a king's ransom.
A huge sum of money, as in That handmade rug must have cost a king's ransom. This metaphoric expression originally referred to the sum required to release a king from captivity. [Late 1400s]
hold someone to ransomBRITISH
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.
a king's ransommainly BRITISH
A king's ransom is an extremely large sum of money. She was paid a king's ransom for a five-minute appearance in the film. With so few skilled electricians available, these people can charge a king's ransom for their services.
a king's ransoma huge amount of money; a fortune.
In feudal times prisoners of war were freed for sums in keeping with their rank, so a king, as the highest-ranking individual, commanded the greatest ransom.
hold someone or something to ransom1 hold someone prisoner and demand payment for their release. 2 demand concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action.
a ˌking’s ˈransom(literary) a very large amount of money: We don’t exactly get paid a king’s ransom in this job.In the past, if a king was captured in a war, his country would pay a ransom for his release.
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.