your pound of flesh

your pound of flesh

If someone demands their pound of flesh, they insist on getting something they have a right to, even though they might not need it and it will cause problems for the people they are getting it from. Banks are quick to demand their pound of flesh from the small businessman who goes even slightly into debt. She has appeared on breakfast television to offer support (in exchange for heaven knows what pound of flesh from her husband). Note: This expression comes from Shakespeare's play `The Merchant of Venice' (Act 4, Scene 1). Shylock is owed money by Antonio, and attempts to carry out an agreement which allows him to cut off a pound of Antonio's flesh.
See also: flesh, of, pound

your pound of flesh

an amount you are legally entitled to, but which it is morally offensive to demand.
The allusion here is to Shylock's bond with the merchant Antonio in Shakespeare 's The Merchant of Venice and to the former's insistence that he should receive it, even at the cost of Antonio's life.
See also: flesh, of, pound

(have, demand, claim, etc.) your pound of ˈflesh

(take, demand, etc.) the full amount that somebody owes you, even if this will cause them trouble or suffering: They want their pound of flesh; they want every penny we owe them by next Monday.I didn’t realize working here was going to be such hard work. They really demand their pound of flesh, don’t they?This phrase comes from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, in which the moneylender Shylock demanded a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body if he could not pay back the money he borrowed.
See also: flesh, of, pound