put paid to

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Senior Member
In the third century BC, when Roman ambassadors were negotiating with the Greek city of Tarentum, an ill-judged laugh put paid to any hope of peace. Ancient writers disagree about the exact cause of the mirth…(Confronting The Classics, by Mary Beard)

The meaning of the second part of the sentence is unclear to me. The author mean that the laugh might have caused the war between the two sides, so does “put paid” bear any relation to that meaning?
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  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello benjaminlee

    "Put paid to" is defined in the WR English dictionary entry for paid:
    • put paid to ⇒ chiefly Brit NZ to end or destroy: breaking his leg put paid to his hopes of running in the Olympics
    There's also a previous thread on the expression here: put paid to.

    The idea is that the laugh ended - or destroyed - all hope of peace.


    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm surprised too.

    I just looked it up in the OED and there is no mention of NZ or anywhere other than Britain for that matter.
    The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language says it's chiefly British.
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