Posted by Word Camel on February 01, 2002
In Reply to: Nothing is cheap which is superfluous, for what one does need, is dear a penny posted by Marta on February 01, 2002
: Hi everybody!
: Pleased to meet you. I'm a Spanish free-lance translator and I'm just happy that I've found you ;-)
: I hope you can help me with this sentence:
: "Nothing is cheap which is superfluous, for what one does need, is dear at a penny".
: I think I've understood its meaning (perhaps: superfluous things are always expensive; necessary things are not). But I wonder if it is a phrase used in specific situations and even if I have undestood it correctly.
: Thanks in advance.
I have a different understanding of the phrase. I think it means that nothing that isn't a necessity is can be considered cheap because what one absolutely needs is expensive.
Imagine an unemployed person offered an ridiculously cheap price for a trip to Spain. Unfortunately because this person can barely pay for the necessities, so it doesn't matter how inexpensive the trip is, it can't be considered cheap.
'Dear' is used here in the sense of expensive.
I haven't heard the phrase used before. Where did you find it?