This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Last updated at 17:34 GMT, Monday, 29 October 2012

Cost an arm and a leg


Rob goes shopping with Vera to buy a suit for a wedding. Listen to this programme to find out what the phrase 'cost an arm and a leg' means.

A man wearing a smart suit

Rob likes the suit but it costs 'an arm and a leg'!

The script for this programme

(Rob and Vera go shopping)

Rob: Ah Vera, it's great that you've come with me during our lunch break to do some shopping. I need to buy a suit to go to a wedding and I have to look very smart.

Vera: And I will make sure of that, Rob. Everybody says I have good taste. I've always chosen my husband's and my son's pyjamas and they look good while they sleep! Rob, I love that grey suit in the window!

Rob: Wow! It looks really smart, actually. It will make me look great!

Vera: Exactly! Let's go into the shop, you must try it!

Salesman: The colour suits you, Sir! I will see if I can find a smaller size so that it fits you perfectly.

Vera: You see, Rob... This salesman knows what he is talking about. He thinks it looks good on you. But he is right - a size smaller would fit better. And everybody in the wedding will think you are a powerful man.

Rob: Yes. Wait Vera, this suit is not for me. I'm reading this label and it says it costs an arm and a leg!

Vera: An arm and a leg!? This is terrible, Rob! It's barbaric! This is the 21st century, not the Middle Ages! And the salesman seems quite civilised. He sounded like a nice man who wouldn't demand your limbs!

Rob: Don't worry, Vera. I will keep all of my limbs. In English, when we say something costs an arm and a leg we mean that it is very expensive!

Vera: So, it is something people say but it doesn't actually involve arms and legs. That's a relief!

Rob: Let's hear some examples while I get back into my old clothes.

  • "I'd like to travel all over Europe, but the air fare might cost me an arm and a leg."
  • "You have to pay a lot of money to give your children a good education nowadays! A place in a top university costs an arm and a leg."

Rob: So, what expression do you use when you want to say that something is very, very expensive?

Vera: You might say it costs an arm and a leg.

Rob: Yes. Now let's leave this expensive suit here and get out of the shop before that posh-sounding salesman comes back.

Vera: Good idea. He will look down on us, Rob. But I would... pay a nail and an elbow for that scarf there... and that red dress over there, it might cost a foot and a knee... Oh, look at that handbag! It's a designer one and must cost an ear and a hand...

Rob: What are you talking about, Vera!? We only say "an arm and a leg"! Now, quickly, let's get out of here!

Vera: OK, OK. Bye...

Rob: Bye.


Latest programmes: