What does the idiom "cost a bomb" mean?

The expression cost a bomb is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the cost a bomb idiom.

Meaning of "cost a bomb"


The phrase 'cost a bomb' is an idiomatic expression meaning something is very expensive. It is often used to express surprise at how costly something has become. Additionally, it can also be used to indicate that an item or service is too costly to consider.


The origin of the phrase 'cost a bomb' is unclear but it is believed to have originated in the 1940s. This was at a time when the media was reporting about the horrific destruction inflicted by the bombs being dropped during World War II. Consequently, people began using bomb metaphors to express the idea of something being excessively or disproportionately expensive. It is thought that this phrase was born out of these discussions.


As previously mentioned, the phrase 'cost a bomb' is used to express surprise at the extreme expense of an item or service. It was originally used to describe items that were expensive due to their materials or labor costs. However, it has come to also be used to describe items whose price is not necessarily based in reality. For example, if an item was sold for a much higher price than its market value, it could be described with this phrase. Additionally, it can also be used to describe the cost of a mistake or the cost that was paid for a benefit.

Example Sentences

  • I wanted to buy a new car, but they were all costing a bomb!
  • I had to pay a bomb for the tickets to the game last night.
  • It's a nice necklace, but it would cost a bomb!
  • That mistake cost a bomb in legal fees.

The meanings of the words in the "cost a bomb" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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