But what does the expression really mean and where in the world did it come from?
Well, paying through the nose simply means that you have paid a lot of money (too much in fact) for something and… that you were not too happy about it.
Many believe that the expression originated in Britain and started with people not being able to pay their taxes. As a result of and punishment for the offense the nose of the offender was slit… and the expression “paying through the nose” was born.
It’s also been suggested that the phrase might have originated with poll tax levied by the Danish on the Irish in the ninth century. The story goes that the Danes slit the noses of non-payers. However, the phrase did not appear in print until 1672 (so… who knows?).
Another possible explanation for the origin of the phrase is placed on Viking raiders. Apparently the Vikings required payment of a tribute from cities they did not raid. If the king refused to pay tribute, they would slit his nose. Hence, the king paid “through” the nose.
Regardless of where the expression originated, today it indicates that you are simply paying too much for something.
Luckily for us however, it no longer entails the slitting of noses!