cross someone's palm with silver

Idioms & Phrases

cross someone's palm with silver

Pay for a service; pay in advance. For example, I'll give you all the details, but first cross my palm with silver. This phrase alludes to the old practice of placing silver coins across a gypsy fortuneteller's hand before having one's fortune told. Today it is sometimes used in a jocular way to ask for a bribe or a tip, as in the example. [c. 1700] Also see grease someone's palm.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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