Pay Through the Nose

Meaning of Idiom ‘Pay Through the Nose’

To pay through the nose means to pay an excessive amount of money for something; to pay much too high a price.

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Examples Of Use

“People in rural areas have to pay through the nose for slow internet access.”

“Be careful before you pay through the nose for a vacation tour package. Some of them are scams.”

“Don’t go to that used car lot. You’ll pay through the nose for a crappy car.”


We don’t really know the true origin of this idiom, which has been used since the latter 1600s. A simple explanation, which seems a bit too cute to be true, but is widely believed, is that to pay too high a price is as annoying as a nose bleed.

Then, there is the idea that the idiom comes from 17th-century slang for money, rhino. Rhino is Greek for nose and, since noses sometimes bleed…well, this ‘theory’ is so convoluted and rests on so many assumptions, it’s not worth a hill of beans, to be frank.

Yet another commonly suggested story is that it harkens back to the Danish invasion of Britain during the 9th century when the Danes charged a tax to the Irish called ‘the nose tax.’ If someone failed to pay their taxes on time, their nose was slit open.

Even nautical origins have been suggested, referring to paying out a cable through the bow, or nose of a ship.

Perhaps the expression derives from an earlier expression ‘to bore through the nose’ meaning to utterly deceive as suggested on

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