on pain of


Also, under pain of. Subject to the penalty of a specific punishment. For example, The air traffic controllers knew that going on strike was on pain of losing their jobs. At one time this idiom often invoked death as the penalty, a usage that is largely hyperbolic today, as in We'd better be back on time, under pain of death. [Late 1300s]

QUIZZES

THE OCTOBER WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ IS HERE TO HAUNT YOU

Search your capacious memory for the meaning of October’s words!
Question 1 of 9
Which Word of the Day from this month means, “an irrational dislike; loathing”?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.