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Joe Mac

Odd expressions

I've always been puzzled by the Brit expression 'put paid to'. I think I understand it from context, but it never has made any sense at all.
Also odd is that when I brought it up in conversation the other day, not one of my interlocutors had ever seen it - or so they said. I've been reading that damn thing my whole life - haven't I?

I've certainly known it to be in use forever too! A quick trawl of the net fetched this up...


To deal with effectively; to finish something off.


'Put paid to' probably derives from the practice of book-keepers of writing or stamping "Paid" on bills when the paperwork for a sale was completed. The term isn't especially old and I can't find any examples of it in print prior to the 20th century. An early citation comes from the Winnipeg newspaper The Manitoba Morning Free Press, October 1905. This appeared in a listing of English football results, which were presumably printed in a Canadian paper for the benefit of the many English immigrants:

"Wolverhampton Wanderers put paid to Bolton's account, the scores being: 2-0"

Used in Canada too it would seem!  Very Happy

It can also so mean to 'prevent someone from doing something they want to do.'

For instance:   a serious back injury put paid to his athletics career.

What a coincidence! I used that expression in a private e-mail I sent off to a friend only about half an hour ago:

"I was hoping we could get an early goal and make a match of it, but Edourado's dive put paid to that."

You a Celtic fan, Himadri?

Me too!

Yes. My father used to love football, and as I was growing up in Glasgow in the 1970s, he used to take me to Celtic Park quite frequently. I'm old enough to remember the days when we used to be one of Europe's top teams.

Oh wow!   I've never had the chance to see them play in the flesh.  I've always supported from afar.   My dad used to take me to see Birmingham City so they are my main team, Celtic are my 'away' team, so to speak.

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