Posted by Smokey Stover on March 25, 2006
In Reply to: Foot the bill posted by John on March 25, 2006
: Where and when did the idiom 'foot the bill' originate?
From the OED. "[Foot] c. colloq. To pay or settle (a bill).
1819 E. EVANS Pedestrious Tour in R. G. Thwaites Early Western Travels VIII. 183 My dogs..helped themselves to the first repast presented, leaving their master to foot the bills. 1848 DURIVAGE Stray Subj. 183 If our plan succeeded, the landlord was to foot the bill, and 'stand treat'...."
So the where and when seems to be England, early 19th century. There is likely some connection to a slightly different use of foot defined in the OED: " b. To add up and set the sum at the foot of (an account, bill, etc.); to reckon or sum up. Now usually with up. Chiefly dial. and colloq.
1490 Acta Dom. Conc. 176/2 The tyme that his compt wes futit. 1828 WEBSTER s.v., To foot an account...." .SS.