An Arm and a Leg Idiom

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History and Meaning

The idiom “an arm and a leg” is used to describe something that is excessively expensive or costs a lot of money. The expression suggests that the price being asked is so high that it would be comparable to the extreme cost of losing a limb.

The origin of this idiom is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in the United States in the early 1900s. It is possible that it was influenced by the idea that losing a limb was a significant cost, both financially and personally, due to the impact on a person’s ability to work and perform daily tasks.


  • “The designer handbag costs an arm and a leg, so I decided to go for a more affordable option.”
  • “The repair costs for my car were so high that it felt like it would cost an arm and a leg.”
  • “I would love to travel to Europe, but the airfare and accommodations would cost an arm and a leg.”

The “an arm and a leg” idiom is often used to emphasize the high cost of something, and it is frequently used in discussions of money and finance. It can be used in both formal and informal contexts, and it is generally well-understood by native speakers of English.

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