Costare un occhio della testa is a popular Italian idiom! 

If you heard “costare un occhio della testa” you might have wondered what it means: often idioms are not straight forward and we need to go beyond the single words to catch their meaning.

Considering how much Italians use idiomatic expressions in everyday spoken language, learning them is essential to make sure that you can take part in conversations and interact without gaps in comprehension.

At Happy Languages we constantly work on idioms: it’s not only useful but also really fun!

So let’s find out more about this idiom!

Costare un occhio della testa” is used when something is really expensive: in English it corresponds to “to cost an arm and a leg”, “to cost a fortune”.

The story behind dates back to the 16th century, when Diego de Almagro, a Spanish conqueror, during an expedition to South America was hit by a native and lost an eye. Later, referring to that episode, he said that the mission had literally costed him an eye.

Some examples will clarify how to use this expression!

Italian English
Ieri ho visto un vestito bellissimo ma non l’ho comprato perché costava un occhio della testa! Yesterday I saw a beautiful dress but I didn’t buy it because it costed a fortune!
Laura è molto benestante, si è appena trasferita in un casa che costa un occhio della testa. Laura is very wealthy, she just moved to a house that costs an arm and a leg.
Le tasse universitarie costano un occhio della testa, quindi Francesco ha deciso di cominciare a lavorare per pagarle. University fees cost an arm and a leg, so Francesco decided to start working to pay them.


It’s not difficult, try to use this idiom and you will quickly feel confident enough!

If you are interested in learning more Italian idiomatic expressions follow this link or browse through our online resources.