$500 is on the steep side


Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Bill: $500 is on the steep side.

Meg: I don't think we can do this right now. With the reopening costs, it's...

Source: Haven, Season 1 Episode 4
Background: Bill and Meg were preparing to reopen a restaurant whose original owners died few years ago. Duke, the owner of a fishing boat, came in the restaurant with a mystery crate that he offered them for $500. He guaranteed the thing in the crate was something precious and rare, but they had to pay first before opened it. Bill and Meg didn't think they could afford it, with all the reopening costs they had to spend.

Hi, does "$500 is steep" carry a different sense than "500 is on the steep side"? I guess "500 is on the steep side" is a bit more twisted and indirect than "500 is steep". Other than that, there's no difference at all.
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    1. I think you have already understood the meaning of 'steep' in this context
    3 informal (of a price or demand) not reasonable; excessive.

    2. There is a difference because

    "on the <adjective> side" == somewhat/fairly/rather <adjective>


    "He is a little on the tall side for a jockey" == he is rather tall to be a jockey

    EDIT - I have discovered a similar thread
    A bit/little on the + adjective + side
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks for your explanation and the thread, Biffo~~~ I'm reading that thread and quite agree that this kind of phrase on the <adjective> side, rather is often used as a deliberate understatement. Like Bill avoided saying outright that "it is too steep!", hoping not to burn the bridge with Duke.
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