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Pound of flesh

Posted by Bob on January 10, 2001

In Reply to: Pound of flesh posted by Patty on January 10, 2001

: My sense of the phrase "a pound of flesh" is that it means payment, or a necessary evil. What does it mean exactly, and where does it come from? Thanks. -Patty

Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice.
Shylock demands a pound of flesh when a loan cannot be repaid (hey, it's in the contract) but he is prevented from extracting this excessive and vengeful demand with Portia's fancy legal footwork. So. The phrase lives, as an emblem of harsh unfair repayment penalties... you know, like credit card interest.