pound of flesh


pound of flesh


  • an unreasonable demand but something that is one’s legal right.
  • something that can only be paid via a great loss or suffering to the payer, despite the due being a strict justice demand.
  • to fulfill a deal or a punishment is something that is exacted. The execution can be a payment or a penalty.
  • something unreasonable to demand from someone, despite having the right to receive it.
  • a cruel or unreasonable debt or punishment that is harshly insisted upon.
  • an amount paid or a penalty that requires the victim to suffer and make a sacrifice.

Examples in Sentences

  1. If you do not pay the amount of money, I have lent you by the agreed time, I will get a pound of flesh from you in return.
  2. A pound of flesh is demanded by the lender in return for not paying the debt at the agreed time.
  3. You can get a pound of the flesh according to the contract.
  4. “You may now get your pound of flesh as stated in the agreement,” said the judge.
  5. The government will demand a pound of flesh in return from the terrorists after the bombing of its citizens.


The idiom “pound of flesh” was used in the Merchant of Venice. The Merchant of Venice is a book that was written by William Shakespeare.

The incident took place in the 1600s when Antonio, a wealthy merchant, took a loan from a money lender known as Shylock for his friend Bassanio. Bassanio wanted the money to woo Portia. Since Antonio’s wealth was in the sea, he opted to borrow money from his rival and enemy, Shylock. They agreed that the money was to be paid, failing which Shylock was to get a pound of flesh from Antonio.

The debt was not paid on time and the matter was taken to court. During the hearing, Shylock was told to take a pound of flesh from Antonio as agreed on in the contract. He was to take the exact amount without spilling any blood.

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