to pay your dues

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - pay your dues

"to pay your dues"

to have earned your right to something through hard work or suffering


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - pay your dues

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1: Don't you think it is about time you got a promotion?

Colleague 2: Yes. I have paid my dues over the years.

Colleague 1: You certainly have. Six years in the mail room. Four years in the factory and ten years working various positions around the office definitely shows your hard work, perseverance and dedication. You deserve a promotion.

Colleague 2: Thank you.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - pay your dues

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1: That is great news. You must be excited to finally have landed an acting part in a major motion picture.

Friend 2: I certainly feel that after ten years of small parts in local productions and working in less than ideal conditions most of the time that I have paid my dues.

Friend 1: You have absolutely put in the time and effort to bring you to this point.

Test Your Understanding  

to pay your dues - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   1,186   click for frequency by country

to pay your dues - Gerund Form:

Paying her dues by working for years in less than ideal conditions earned her success.

to pay your dues - Examples:

1)  But if you are willing to pick up a pitchfork and pay your dues, you might pick up the skills to take you wherever you want.

2)  Pay your dues like all of us and learn what it is all about.

3)  ... but to become great at something, you have to pay your dues.

4)  ... could be really good and creative. But obviously you would need to pay your dues before getting to that stage.

5)  ... to work hard, not give up, and realise you have to pay your dues.

6)  Do your time, pay your dues and create something worth promoting in the first place. 

7)  What advice would you give them? Pay your dues, do your homework and learn the history of music in general. 

8)  ... entry level jobs are difficult and often unrewarding. Expect to pay your dues and remember that there will be difficult days and difficult people.

9)  In the beginning, in any field, you always have to pay your dues.

10)  ... to be someone's understudy or apprentice. Put the hours in, pay your dues. It will pay off. But you will have to work.

11)  The Kazakh native has also paid his dues in the minors, spending ample time with the Houston Aeros and Providence Bruins.

12)  He initially paid his dues doing all sorts of manual jobs for the studio, like repairing tennis courts and ...

13)  Their middle-aged employers typically pride themselves on having paid their dues and climbed the career ladder back in their day.

14)  Many of them worked hard in school and paid their dues on many levels to achieve the positions they hold. 

15)  ... frustrating for full-time workers, those who listened at school, those who paid their dues and did the' demeaning' jobs, both during and after studies, when ...

16)  I didn't go to school for photography and I haven't paid my dues assisting. And frankly, this career is something of an accident. 

17)  I thought if I paid my dues and worked my way up through the ranks, I could maybe reach a position ...

18)  Plus I like being called Madam, I have paid my dues by cleaning too many toilets in my past life.

19)  Hey, I paid my dues, I've had my share of holes in the shoes. 

20)  As an undergraduate and master's student at MIT, I paid my dues by working on an advisor-approved, grant-funded project for two and a half years rather ...