Origin of a Cliché


Apropos of tax day plus one (anyone feeling the pain?), did the expression that you were “paying through the nose” occur to you?

Most clichés can’t be traced to a specific source, but this one can. When the Danes conquered the Irish in the ninth century, they instituted a “nose tax.” If the Irish did not pay, their nostrils were slit. I wonder if this was the inspiration for what Jack Nicholson’s character did in the movie “Chinatown.”

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

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