sticker shock

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Coined circa 1981, in reference to price stickers affixed to items for sale.


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sticker shock (usually uncountable, plural sticker shocks)

  1. (idiomatic, chiefly US) Disgust, shock, or fright upon learning the price of an item offered for sale.
    • 1981, P. Witteman and K. Pierce, "Going from Bad to Even Worse," Time, 9 Nov.,
      Last week Jensen returned to his dealer's showroom to eye the new Continental, but he quickly became another victim of what Detroit calls "sticker shock." The price on the car's window: $25,692. Says he: "Damn, that is expensive! It persuaded me to keep driving my '80 until it won't go any more."
    • 1996, Ed Henry, Taking on Sticker Shock, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Dec 1996
      Now the 1997 model year brings a slew of new and redesigned models that tackle sticker shock head-on.

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