pay the piper

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From the English phrase who pays the piper calls the tune.


pay the piper

  1. (idiomatic) To pay expenses for something, and thus be in a position to be in control.
  2. (idiomatic) To pay a monetary debt or experience unfavorable consequences, especially when the payment or consequences are inevitable in spite of attempts to avoid them.
    • 1831, April 16, Dandy Doricourt, letter to the editors, The New-York mirror, volume 8, issue number 41, page 325:
      [T]he very constitution of society is based upon this volunteer system of paying the piper. Honest men pay the piper for rogues, and full purses for empty ones.
    • 1921, Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton, The Sisters-In-Law, ch. 10:
      He wanted to get rich too quickly I suppose. . . . He's got to pay the piper.
    • 2006, Candice Millard, "The River of Doubt," Time, 25 Jun.:
      Roosevelt never fully recovered his health, but he refused any regret. "I am always willing to pay the piper," he once wrote, "when I have had a good dance."