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Time takes its toll

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 15, 2007

In Reply to: Time takes its toll posted by ESC on June 15, 2007

: : What does the phrase, "Time takes its toll on us" really mean and how did it come to be an expression?

: Aging, the passage of time, extracts a price. Time wears down, weathers objects and people. But the passage of time can also add patina -- a surface appearance of something grown beautiful, especially with age or use (Merriam-Webster). Of course, wild women improve with age.

: That's my little essay. Anyone have an origin?
I would say that the basic idiom here is "X takes its toll", "time" being just one of the possible agents; many things can take their toll on us, such as parenthood, chronic illness, our careers. The metaphor is of a toll road - you can travel down it, but only at a price. My guess is that the metaphor became popular in the 18th century, when many of England's roads were built and maintained by turnpike trusts which levied tolls on their users. (VSD)