Advertisement

Advertisement

pound of flesh

noun

  1. something that is one's legal right but is an unreasonable demand (esp in the phrase to have one's pound of flesh )


pound of flesh

1
  1. A phrase from the play , by William Shakespeare . The moneylender Shylock demands the flesh of the “merchant of Venice,” Antonio, under a provision in their contract . Shylock never gets the pound of flesh, however, because the character Portia discovers a point of law that overrides the contract: Shylock is forbidden to shed any blood in getting the flesh from Antonio's body.


pound of flesh

2
  1. Creditors who insist on having their “pound of flesh” are those who cruelly demand the repayment of a debt, no matter how much suffering it will cost the debtor: “The bank will have its pound of flesh; it is going to foreclose on our mortgage and force us to sell our home.” The expression is from , by William Shakespeare .

Discover More

Notes

People who cruelly or unreasonably insist on their rights are said to be demanding their “pound of flesh.”

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of pound of flesh1

from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (1596), Act IV, scene i

Discover More

Idioms and Phrases

A debt whose payment is harshly insisted on, as in The other members of the cartel all want their pound of flesh from Brazil . This expression alludes to the scene in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (4:1) where the moneylender Shylock demands the pound of flesh promised him in payment for a loan, and Portia responds that he may have it but without an ounce of blood (since blood was not promised). [c. 1600]

Advertisement

Word of the Day

axolotl

[ak-suh-lot-l ]

Meaning and examples

Start each day with the Word of the Day in your inbox!

By clicking "Sign Up", you are accepting Dictionary.com Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policies.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Dictionary.com Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement


pound netpound out