in for a penny, in for a pound

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Originally with reference to the fact that if one owed a penny, one might as well owe a pound (pound sterling, UK currency) as the penalties for non-payment were virtually identical in severity.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɪn fəɹə ˈpɛ.ni ɪn fəɹə paʊnd/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ɪn fɔɹ ə ˈpɛ.ni ɪn fɔɹ ə paʊnd/
  • (file)


in for a penny, in for a pound

  1. Having started something, one must see it through to its end, rather than stopping short; one must “go the whole hog”.
    • 1964, J. F. Holleman, Experiment in Swaziland: report of the Swaziland sample survey, 1960, page 9:
      Under the circumstances it seemed to be a case of ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’. If the Institute’s team were still prepared to accept the challenge, the Administration was willing to do likewise…
    • 1964, Sanki Ichikawa, The Kenkyusha Dictionary of Current English Idioms, page 509:
      in for a penny, in for a pound: if one undertakes something, it must be carried through at whatever cost.
    • 2001, B. J. James, A Lady for Lincoln Cade, page 159:
      Turning before the mirror, she studied the gown she’d spent much of her savings on in Belle Terre. “Okay, but not great. In for a penny, in for a pound. Soon I have to get a job.”
    • 2002, Kathryn Wall, In for a Penny: A Bay Tanner Mystery, page 123:
      I rummaged in my bag for Miss Addie’s keys, turned off the car, and marched purposefully toward the building.
      “‘In for a penny, in for a pound’”, I mumbled under my breath as I pushed open the door and headed for the elevator.
    • 2004, M. Mihkel Mathiesen, Global Warming in a Politically Correct Climate: How Truth Became Controversial, page 133:
      It appears to be a situation where the greenhouse proponents are in for a penny, in for a pound. As long as the myth needs to be kept alive, this is the inescapable conclusion.




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