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English Idioms and Phrases: Pay the piper

Updated on November 2, 2012


'To pay the piper', or sometimes said in full 'to pay the pied piper' means to face the consequences of your actions.

"I shouldn't have said that and now I will have to pay the piper"

It can also be used as an alternative for being forced to pay a debt or suffer the consequences.



This comes from the story 'Pied Piper of Hamelin'

The story goes that the town of Hamelin asked a piper to rid the town of all its rats. He did this by playing a tune and leading all of the rats to drown. He then returned to the town for his payment but they refused to pay him.

He took his revenge on the townspeople by again playing his pipe and leading all of the children out of the town.

Therefore the people of Hamelin had to 'pay the piper' meaning they had to face the consequences of not paying him.

Alternatives or Synonyms

face the consequences

Similar idioms

Cross the Rubicon (click the link)


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      Juliana - Brazil 4 years ago

      Very interesting

      Here in Brazil say pay the piper mean bear the consequences of actions and attitudes of others

      Congratulations for your page!