What does the idiom "pay sb\'s way" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase pay sb\'s way, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression pay sb\'s way used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "pay sb\'s way"


The phrase 'pay sb's way' is an idiom which means to provide someone with the financial means to do something, especially when the expense is shared between two parties. It implies that one person is paying for another, usually out of a sense of generosity or obligation. Additionally, it can mean to provide someone with a way to do something, such as paying for the time or resources necessary for them to do it.


The phrase 'pay sb's way' originated in the early 1900s, and was first used in a play by English author Noel Coward in 1926. In the play, Coward used the phrase to describe a father paying for his daughters to attend college. Since then, the phrase has been used in a variety of contexts, both literally and figuratively.


The phrase is most commonly used in everyday language when two or more people share a cost. This could be in the context of a vacation or a night out, when one person will pay for the other's expenses. In this situation, the phrase implies that the person who is paying for the other is doing so out of kindness or obligation. The phrase can also be used in a figurative sense, such as when one person is paying for the resources or time necessary for another to do something. This could be in the context of a job, where an employer pays for an employee's resources or training.

Example Sentences

  • My aunt offered to pay my way for my summer vacation.
  • She was so grateful that he had paid her way for the job interview.
  • I will pay your way to the conference if you promise to take lots of notes.

The meanings of the words in the "pay sb\'s way" 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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