foot the bill

to pay the bill


foot the bill = die Rechnung bezahlen, die Zeche bezahlen --- GOOGLE INDEX foot the bill: approximately 25,000,000 Google hits



Federal government ready to help FOOT THE BILL for Alberta flooding

(The Globe & Mail, Canada article headline)

European Union has struck a deal on rules establishing who will pay for bank bailouts in the future without taxpayers having to FOOT THE BILL.

(BusinessWeek magazine)

Did you

foot the bill

- to pay the cost of something

(Cambridge Online Dictionary)

The word foot is used in a wide variety of idioms and phrases, all of which more or less refer to the literal sense of foot:

- get a foot in the door = to complete the first step in a process (If I could just get my foot in the door, I think I could get that job)

- get off on the right foot = to begin doing something in a way that will likely lead to success (We were glad that the project got off on the right foot)

- get off on the wrong foot = to begin doing something in a way that is likely to fail (Although we got off on the wrong foot, we developed a lasting friendship)

- set foot in (somewhere) = to visit or go to a place (I’ve never set foot in the Middle East)

So what do our feet have to do with paying something? Nothing actually. In the expression "foot the bill," foot refers to the end or the bottom of something, such as a footer in a document. In this case it means adding up a column of figures, like an account ledger or a restaurant check, and placing the result at the bottom.

Some of our subscribers have inquired as to the difference between "bill" and "invoice." Technically, there is no difference. In practice however, a bill usually contains an amount to be paid with little or no detail. An invoice contains an itemized list of the goods purchased or the services provided, with a statement of the sum due for these.


bear the cost of, bear the expense of, pay for, pony up, pick up the tab, spring for, shell out

SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation

"As a general rule, we do not allow business partners to foot the bill at a restaurant."

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