(sea term). To cover with pitch. (Latin, picare, to
cover with pitch.)
Here's the devil to pay, and no pitch hot.
(To). To discharge a debt. (French, payer.)
Who's to pay the piper?
Who is to stand Sam? who is to pay the score? The phrase comes from
the tradition about the Pied Piper of Hameln, who agreed to cure the
town of rats and mice; when he had done so, the people of Hameln
refused to pay him, whereupon he piped again, and led all the children
to Koppelberg Hill, which closed over them.
From the corresponding French phrase, “payer les violons,” it
would seem to mean who is to pay the fiddler or piper if we have a
dance [on the green]; who is going to stand Sam?
(To). To slacken a cable; as, “Pay away” [more cable];
that is, “discharge” more cable. (French, payer.)
(To). To requite, to punish.
I'll pay him out.
I'll be a match for him, I'll punish him.
“They with a foxe-tale him soundly did paye.”
The King and Northerne Man (1640).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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