An arm and a leg

Meaning: A large, possibly exorbitant, amount of money. Origins are considered a bit murky, one theory has to do with portrait painters charging more to paint limbs…but according to Gary Martin,  author of the Meanings and Origins section of the Phrasefinder site and of the Phrase A Week posts the phrase is “in fact an American phrase, coined sometime after WWII.  The earliest citation is from The Long Beach Independent, December 1949:

Food Editor Beulah Karney has more than 10 ideas for the homemaker who wants to say “Merry Christmas” and not have it cost her an arm and a leg.”

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