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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, to

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!
See also: for, hold, ransom

king's ransom

A very large sum of money. I've always wanted to vacation in Hawaii, but the plane tickets cost a king's ransom.
See also: ransom
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
See also: for, hold, ransom

*king's ransom

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.
See also: ransom
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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]
See also: ransom
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.

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, to

a king's ransom

mainly 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.
See also: ransom
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a king's ransom

a 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.
See also: ransom

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

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.
See also: ransom

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, to
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Forty-two of those ships were held for ransom, and 889 crew members were taken hostage.
Kidnappings for ransom are on the rise, and insurers are selling more policies to protect executives who travel to
Philippine President Joseph Estrada ordered Monday a libel case filed against a German magazine that reported he and a close aide, Robert Aventajado, pocketed part of the ransom money paid to free German hostages kidnapped in April by Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines.
The ransom family must goes as planned, once they've fastened the last bolt, the Ransoms, both 40, estimate that the alterations will have vaulted the home's value to $169,000, nearly 50% more than their initial investment.
Those in favor of ransoms argue they are the only safe way to free seafarers.
But Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, during a visit to Manila last week, indicated Malaysia might pay a ransom.
Summary: New Delhi [India], July 27 (ANI): The No More Ransom initiative launched by the Dutch National Police, Europol, McAfee and Kaspersky Lab in July 2016, celebrates a year today with 100 partners, as major ransomware attacks continue to dominate the news, affecting businesses, governments and individuals all over the world.
Noynoy Aquino, tignan mo kung hindi mo binibigay 'yung ransom namin, puputulan ko ng ulo 'yung Canadian.
A report in the New York Times last year said al Qaeda and its affiliates had made at least $125 million from kidnap ransoms since 2008, most from European governments making payments through proxies.
MILAN, Rabi'I 25, 1436, Jan 16, 2015, SPA -- Italy's foreign minister on Friday denied media reports that Italy had paid $12 million in ransom to free two young aid workers held for five months in Syria, telling lawmakers "we are against paying ransom," according to AP.
The release of the two German nationals by the Abu Sayyaf after the reported payment of $5.56 million in ransom on Oct.
And he said Britain will continue with its policy not to pay ransoms in cases of terrorist kidnap, adding the UK needed to ensure other countries are also "good to their word".
Belgium is widely thought to negotiate and pay ransoms if needed to free its citizens, even though the government in Brussels routinely denies ransom payments.
"The payment of such ransoms enables terrorists to increase recruitment, strengthens their ability to organise and carry out terrorist attacks, and provides an incentive for future kidnaps," Hague went on.
BASRA/ Aswat al-Iraq: Basra Provincial Council advised its people not to travel to Turkey following the continued kidnapping of Iraqis for ransoms, as reported by London-based al-Hayat daily.