It costs an arm and a leg

Discover the meaning of "it costs an arm and a leg" and learn how to use this idiom in everyday English with Studycat.

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It costs an arm and a leg

Today, we’re going to explore a quirky idiom that might make you think twice about your piggy bank. Have you ever heard someone say, “It costs an arm and a leg”? No, they’re not talking about buying a super-expensive robot body part!

Let’s uncover the true meaning behind this bizarre phrase and learn how to use it like a pro.

What does “it costs an arm and a leg” mean?

Let’s say you’re at the toy store, and you spot the most incredible, shiny new toy you’ve ever seen. But when you check the price tag, your eyes grow wide, and your whiskers start to twitch.

That’s when you might hear your parent say, “Whoa, that costs an arm and a leg!”

This funny phrase means that something is very expensive or overpriced — so much so that it’s like you’d have to give up an arm and a leg just to afford it!

Where does “costs an arm and a leg” come from?

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms, the phrase “costs an arm and a leg” originated in the United States in the mid-20th century. Some believe it may have come from the idea of paying a high price, like losing an arm and a leg in an accident and having to pay a lot for medical bills.

Another theory suggests that the idiom could be related to portrait painting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Apparently, if you wanted a portrait that included your arms and legs, you’d have to pay extra for the additional work. So, a full-body portrait would “cost an arm and a leg” compared to one that just showed your head and shoulders!

How to use “costs an arm and a leg”

Ready to start using this idiom like a true bargain hunter? Here are a few examples of how you can incorporate “costs an arm and a leg” into your daily chats:

  • “I’d love to buy that fancy new bike, but it costs an arm and a leg. Let’s look for a more affordable option."
  • "I wanted to go to that amusement park for my birthday, but the tickets cost an arm and a leg. Maybe we can find a coupon or go somewhere else."
  • "Mom, can we get this super-cool video game? I know it costs an arm and a leg, but I promise to do extra chores to help pay for it!”

Other ways to say “it’s very expensive”

While “costs an arm and a leg” is a fun and memorable phrase, there are plenty of other creative ways to express the same idea:

  • It costs a pretty penny – This one means something is expensive, but it sounds a bit fancy, doesn’t it?
  • It costs a small fortune – Imagine having a tiny treasure chest full of gold and jewels. That’s how much this phrase means!
  • It breaks the bank – If something is so expensive that it empties your piggy bank, it “breaks the bank”!

Fun ways to practice “costs an arm and a leg”

Let’s put this idiom into practice! You could set up a pretend store at home with various items and price tags. Take turns being the shopkeeper and the customer, and use the phrase “costs an arm and a leg” when describing the most expensive items. You can even create silly price tags that show an arm and a leg instead of numbers!

Another fun idea is to go on a “bargain hunt” together. Look through store flyers or online shops and try to spot the best deals. When you find something that’s overpriced, exclaim, “Wow, that costs an arm and a leg!” and see if you can find a more affordable alternative.

The idiom “costs an arm and a leg” is a witty way to describe something that’s very expensive. Remember, while it’s okay to splurge on something special once in a while, it’s always smart to be a savvy shopper and look for the best value for your money.

Happy shopping, little bargain hunters!