Posted by ESC on October 01, 1999

In Reply to: Paying through the nose posted by Joelle on October 01, 1999

: Can anyone help me with the origin of the phrase, paying through the nose? Thanks.

I thought it had a connection to that gruesome practice shown in the movie "Chinatown." Remember when the guy had his nose cut. Shiver!!

The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William & Mary Morris says:

"Pay through the nose. In British slang the word 'rhino' means 'money.' Rhinos is the Greek word for 'nose,' as we see in rhinoceros, the nose-horned beast. One theory, then, is that the phrase 'pay through the nose' evolved from the similarity of 'rhino' and 'rhinos.' More likely, it seems to us, is that it originated with the idea of being 'bled' for money -- via 'nosebleed.' That second theory has the advantage of sustaining the basic idea of the phrase: when you 'pay through the nose,' it's a painful procedure because you're paying an excessively high price."