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Pay through the nose (orig. posted June 2002)

Posted by (Various posters) on August 10, 2002

Posted by James Briggs on June 21, 2002

In Reply to: To pay through the nose posted by Kiah on June 21, 2002

: Does anyone know where this originated. Does it have anything to do with the ancient Egyptian burial custom where the brain was removed through the nostril?

Probably not. To pay through the nose is to pay an exorbitant price for something. I'vefound a couple of possible origins, one of which I reckon to be a little "anaemic"; it goes as follows. As early as the 17th century "rhino" was slang for money; "Rhinos" is Greek for "nose". Noses bleed and someone who pays over the odds can also be said to bleed.
The other explanation goes back to the days of the Danish invasion of Britain. 9th century Danes were particularly strict with their tax laws, especially where "foreigners" were concerned. They levied a particular tax against the Irish called the "Nose Tax"; failure to pay was met by harsh punishment - the debtor had his nose slit open.
The expression only seems to have come into English at the end of the 17th century and so the "anaemic" version is the most likely to be correct.