Ok, if I say "this car is too expensive" or "this car is very expensive", then I can not express the connotation of "expensive".

However, if I say "this car is damn expensive" then I better convey the connotation of "expensive".

So my question is:

What is the English idiom about "expensive" that expresses the idea that "It is so expensive that you feel like you got ripped-off and/or overcharged and/or unmeaningfully expensive"?

For example, "damn expensive" could be ok but is there any other term?

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    If you just want to convey the idea that it isn't worth the price, you can say, "this car is over-priced" or "they want too much for it" This can be said whether the car is priced at $1000 and is only worth $500 or if it's priced at $200,000.00 and is only worth $175,000.00. – Jim Sep 4 '15 at 16:28
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    I'm confused by this question. It seems to want an idiom for "a rip-off", i.e. "too expensive". But "rip-off" is an idiom meaning "too expensive". So you're looking for an idiom of an idiom? – AndyT Sep 4 '15 at 16:29
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    To keep it simple, overpriced has obvious meaning. – Ben Voigt Sep 4 '15 at 18:07
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    Yeah, what's wrong with this car is a rip-off? – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 4 '15 at 18:57
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    It needs to be noted that an item may be exceptionally expensive, yet both the price and the expenditure may be well-justified. This is different from a "rip-off" where the price has been inflated somehow, or a simple poor-choice purchase, where the buyer may have spent more than he needed to. – Hot Licks Sep 4 '15 at 19:37

18 Answers 18


exorbitant is also used for extremely unreasonable prices.

An example of using it, quoting the Oxford dictionary:

some hotels charge exorbitant rates for phone calls

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    I love the word exorbitant because it's etymology translates it to "off of course", and if you bring the broken down parts into modern English first it literally means "outside of orbit" pricing, which is a wonderful inference. – Lewis Goddard Sep 5 '15 at 21:17
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    I vote to reopen this question, which is not unclear! – user66974 Sep 9 '15 at 21:24
  • Seems my comment that pointed out exorbitant is not an English idiom has been deleted... strange. I did not know valid comments could be deleted... :/ Ok, then. – chillin Sep 10 '15 at 6:45
  • I always thought the origin of the word "exorbitant" was "enough to make your eyes pop out of their sockets (orbits)" – Boluc Papuccuoglu Feb 26 '16 at 17:12

Pay through the nose is another common expression:

  • Pay an excessive amount for something, as in: We paid through the nose for that vacation.

    • The origin of this term has been lost. Possibly it alludes to the Danish nose tax, imposed in Ireland in the 9th century, whereby delinquent taxpayers were punished by having their noses slit. [Second half of 1600s]


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    is this idiom used commonly? I have never heard it? – Tom Sep 4 '15 at 16:26
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    Yes, it is a common expression. – user66974 Sep 4 '15 at 16:27
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    Yes, it's common in the US as well. – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 4 '15 at 18:07
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    I have heard this in the US, but not nearly as frequently as something costing an arm and a leg. Neither expression directly means you got ripped off, just that you paid a lot, but pay through the nose is closer to being ripped off though. Context is really important in the use of these expressions to signify whether you just splurged or feel taken advantage of. As I side note, I personally use exorbitant the most as opposed to an the idioms. – jdf Sep 4 '15 at 18:47
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    @jdfLemon: I agree that the "arm and a leg" idiom just means it was expensive; there's no implication of a rip-off there. But I do think "pay through the nose" expressly implies overcharging. You don't ever pay through the nose willingly, but you may pay and arm and a leg for something you really, really wanted. – Marthaª Sep 4 '15 at 21:13

Native speakers will often use the word 'Extortionate'. Literally, this is saying that the seller or vendor etc was trying to extort the money out of you, but in this figurative sense it really just means it was so expensive you feel like you were ripped off or taken advantage off.

The entrance fee was extortionate

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    For what it's worth I have never heard of this word until now... is exorbitant not more common? – mfoy_ Sep 4 '15 at 19:32
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    Nope, definitely extortionate, from the verb to extort, and I hear and use it regularly. It's possible, though, that it's specific to British English or is even a colloquialism specific to a region of the UK. – Jon Story Sep 4 '15 at 19:35
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    I've never heard this in the US – Chris Sunami supports Monica Sep 4 '15 at 19:37
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    Funny, must be in British English, in the US I have never heard extortionate! – jdf Sep 4 '15 at 21:58
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    I'm from California, I've definitely heard extortionate. Similar, but not the same as exorbitant - that just means absurdly high, extortionate means high because they have a monopoly or close enough, and can and do charge whatever the crap they feel like. More negative a connotation. Not terribly common a word, but definitely a word. – neminem Sep 4 '15 at 22:11

A common expression is to say something "costs an arm and a leg" to confer the connotation of it being a rip-off, or overpriced, or just very expensive.

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    This doesn't imply a rip-off to me though, just something that is super expensive, even rightly so. – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 4 '15 at 18:07
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    I'd argue that your half right, and half wrong. I think it more means that it is super expensive relative to what it is. "Paying through the nose" is certainly a much better idiom. – mfoy_ Sep 4 '15 at 18:54
  • see Martha's comment above, if you haven't already – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 4 '15 at 22:11

What about being "gouged"? That is common a common euphemistic verb for charging or being charged exorbitant prices.

gouge (v.) 1560s, "to cut with a gouge," from gouge (n.). Meaning "to force out with a gouge" (especially of the eyes, in fighting) attested by 1800. Meaning "to swindle" is American English colloquial from 1826 (implied in plural noun gougers). Related: Gouged; gouging.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary

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    Can you expand your answer by including what it means? – Matt E. Эллен Sep 5 '15 at 9:29
  • In this case, the expression" to be gouged" seems to come from the wood working tool, a gouge. It is a curved chisel used to remove significant, or excess amounts of material (also leaving behind hat's known as a "gouge" in the rough form). If you feel you are gouged in a financial transaction, it is as if excessive amounts of material (ie: money) are being removed from your wallet. – Ian W Sep 8 '15 at 5:14
  • "Price gouging" is a pretty popular term. Especially right after 9/11 when gas prices went through the roof, a lot of unsavory gas stations were doing some sort of illegal things with their prices. Not entirely sure how, but I know that a lot of state Attorney Generals were getting involved and there were hotlines for that sort of thing. – Wayne Werner Sep 8 '15 at 17:15

Robbery is arguably a more common expression than exorbitant.

Robbery (in ODO) carries the definition:

Unashamed swindling or overcharging

It is often used in this context with the prefixes highway or daylight.

Daylight robbery and highway robbery (in ODO) both carry this definition:

Blatant and unfair overcharging

For example, you could say:

You're selling me this car at £5000? That's daylight robbery.

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    If you're looking for a phrase - "highway robbery" - as there's nothing quite as irritating as getting robbed on the highway. Well, the origin of the phrase would have been from a time when being on a highway you were the most exposed to thieves and because you were a long way from a source of help, they could rob you badly. – GenericJam Sep 5 '15 at 3:59
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    Daylight robbery is a common UK English idiom. – Ben Sep 7 '15 at 8:10
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    I think including daylight or highway help as on its own robbery could imply violence was used – jk. Sep 7 '15 at 11:50
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    As an American I've never heard the term "daylight robbery". Highway, yes. – Christopher Martin Sep 8 '15 at 1:36
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    Daylight robbery is used all the time in the UK to indicate something being overpriced, when you have no real choice due to a situational monopoly, for example you are visiting a fayre or a stadium or a festival and the price of a beer is three times what it would be elsewhere but you have no choice if you want one to shop around as you have paid to enter the area. While it is legal, it feels like robbery performed 'during the day' i.e. in a situation that a robbery would not normally occur. – NibblyPig Sep 8 '15 at 10:02

"They saw you coming" - this is used in particular when saying that someone else was ripped off.

They must have seen you coming:,

  • You were really cheated. They saw you coming and decided they could cheat you easily.

    • Andy: it cost two hundred dollars. Rachel: You paid two hundred dollars for that thing? Boy, they must have seen you coming. Bob: Do you think I paid too much for this car? It's not as good as I thought it was. Tom: It's almost a wreck. They must have seen you coming.

(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms)

  • Another one would be "hosed". As in: "We were totally hosed on the purchase of this useless car."

(Urban Dictionary)

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    You don't need another person to be involved to use this colorful expression. "Can you believe I paid $x for it? They must have really seen me coming." – aparente001 Sep 5 '15 at 21:45
  • The implication is that it is an insult. Yes, someone can insult themselves if they choose. – GenericJam Sep 5 '15 at 23:34
  • It could be said in a playful way. – aparente001 Sep 6 '15 at 3:36
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    Indeed, I try to playfully insult myself as often as possible. – GenericJam Sep 6 '15 at 3:41
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    I think "soaked" is another one similar to "hosed." – Casey Sep 8 '15 at 13:56



to cheat, swindle or strip of money

to charge excessively for goods or services

The idiom has its origins in sheering wool from sheep, also known as their "fleece" (n.), which is such a dramatic change in a sheep's appearance, so also is the metaphor intended to convey a likewise dramatic change for the consumer.


The car salesmen at Empire Cars are unethical; they fleece all of their customers.


Can you believe I paid $x for this mountain bike? I feel like I've been had or I think I've been had.

(Which means, I feel as though I've been taken advantage of).

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    an excellent idiom... – Fattie Sep 6 '15 at 22:38

The following words synonyms of "excessive" were not yet mentioned:

outrageous, exagerated, extravagant, prohibitive, sky high may apply to the car price and unaffordable to the car.

EDIT: I have forgotten astronomical, skyrocketing, staggering and obscene

  • I would give the bounty to "This mountain bike was outrageously expensive." – aparente001 Sep 7 '15 at 2:05


"to cheat, swindle," 1889, American English, probably derived from the colloquial shortening of Gypsy (compare gip). Related: Gypped. As a noun, "fraudulent action, a cheat," by 1914.


  • I thought it was a good deal at first, but I had to pay extra for rustproofing, the extended warranty, and a list of hidden costs, and it broke down as soon as I drove it a block, so basically my new car was a complete gyp.

  • Whomever posted this request for an idiom, and tagged the request "single-word," got gypped on the responses.

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    This term has fallen out of use, and was never actually politically correct to use, but it was common. Today, gyp is recognized as a racist term. Just answering the question, and I meant no offense to our wandering friends, but we understand they don't like it. – chillin Sep 6 '15 at 10:01
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    I have never heard tis used as a racist term? it's totally commonplace in BrE. "You got gypped!" I had no idea it came from "gypsy" – Fattie Sep 6 '15 at 22:38
  • The use of 'gyp' is quite different in my area. It refers to the words spoken by someone which leads to them getting punched. – PCARR Sep 8 '15 at 16:26
  • Agreed, there are plenty of SW answers, as well as phrases and idioms. – Mari-Lou A Sep 10 '15 at 6:27

I can't believe no one suggested pricey yet.

pric•ey /ˈpraɪsi/ also ˈpric•y, adj., -i•er, -i•est. too expensive: those pricey cars.

expensive or unduly expensive: a pricey wine.

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    A mink coat is pricey, doesn't mean the person buying it has been ripped off. Likewise a good bottle of wine, some people are prepared to fork out an extra ten euros, while those who buy their wine in carton boxes (shiver) think paying anything above two euros is lavish spending. I usually hear something being "a bit pricey" or "steep", suggesting the person would purchase it if it wasn't out of their comfort zone. – Mari-Lou A Sep 7 '15 at 17:11

Mugged off!... Stitched up... "He stitched me up on that bike, carbs are gone." or "My mate mugged me off on a deal"

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    Where are these expressions in use? I've never heard them, and I'm not sure I'd know what they meant without extensive context. – Marthaª Sep 4 '15 at 21:14
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    Very definitely British slang/colloquialisms. Popular here in some areas, but almost certainly unheard of outside of the UK – Jon Story Sep 4 '15 at 21:59
  • Funny, I would have assumed being "stitched up" would be a good thing. I mean, not that you'd need to be stitched up in the first place, but having a friend who could stitch you up if you needed it... sounds like a good friend to have (presumably he'd be a doctor.) Words are weird. – neminem Sep 4 '15 at 22:11
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    hi Martha, totally commonplace BrE – Fattie Sep 6 '15 at 22:39


When you get the raw end of a deal, you've been bumped.

  • very nice idiom – Fattie Sep 6 '15 at 22:38


"loud noise," 1560s, perhaps imitative. Klein compares Gaelic racaid "noise." Meaning "dishonest activity" (1785) is perhaps from racquet, via notion of "game," reinforced by rack-rent "extortionate rent" (1590s), from rack …. But it might as well be an extended sense of "loud noise" by way of "noise or disturbance made to distract a pick-pocket's victim."

a fraudulent scheme, enterprise, or activity


You won't believe the prices they are charging, and its the same all over town, so it must be some kind of racket.


You could say

"The price was so high that I felt like I'd been robbed."



Out of proportion, not appropriate in respect of quantity, extent or degree. (OED)




Usually applied to describe "to fail or refuse to tip a server," to stiff also means more generally "to cheat someone out of money."


You said your brother-in-law would give me a fair deal, so I was surprised that he would stiff me out of so much money.

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