Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

(get/take/demand) (a) pound of flesh

get a pound of fleshtake a pound of fleshdemand a pound of flesh
Meaning(s)
1) a debt or punishment that is insisted upon
  • How to MemorizePopularity MediumProfessional LowSocial
    • my creditors were demanding their pound of flesh
  • Analysis
    A ‘pound of flesh’ comes from Shakespeare’s play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ where an unreasonable debt is commanded to be paid. When you say someone demands or takes their ‘pound of flesh’, they are demanding repayment for something usually in a harsh or unreasonable manner. This is a literary phrase and might be used to add emphasis.
  • Social Examples (Advance)
    1. When I missed a couple of mortgage repayments after losing my job, the bank were quick to send me threatening letters demanding their pound of flesh.
    2. Even though I apologised to Adam for what happened, he still wants to get the police involved. I guess he won't be happy until he's taken his pound of flesh. 
  • Professional Examples (Advance)
    1. My creditors don't care what happens to me or my business so long as they get their pound of flesh.
  • Further Suggestions
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