Context: "What Price Conformity?"

I found an article on the internet with this title along with some 23 pages more, and it confused me. You can easily google it; it's the first among the results. Can anyone explain what it means? Is it a set phrase? I think "price" may act as a verb here, but the traditional way I would have used, "What Price Is Conformity?" or "What Prices Conformity" (if we use present indefinite).

  • What price X? is an idiomatic phrase, so it doesn't quite follow standard grammatical rules. There's a discussion of it on English.SE.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 11:11
  • @stangdon - In that discussion, what one answer calls the 'strange' Collins Dictionary definition is very common in UK English. Commented May 12, 2021 at 12:32
  • @MichaelHarvey - I'm not sure I understand their comment, because they call the definition "strange" but Collins almost gives two different definitions. In US English, it almost always seems to mean "What is the cost of X?" these days.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 11:28
  • @stangdon - in BrE a very common usage of "What price (something)?" is to express surprise at inconsistent behaviour or hypocrisy, e.g. your company makes a big fuss about equal opportunity policies and you find out a promotion went to the owner's nephew. You might ask "What price equal opportunities now?". Commented May 13, 2021 at 12:13
  • In 1970, aged 18, I was (as I still am) a socialist. The Conservative Party local candidate in that year's General Election, the boss of an insurance broker company, made a speech about standards in public life. Two weeks before the poll, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for a huge fraud. For mischief, I went in the office of the local Conservative Party branch and asked the lady on the desk "What price Bernard Black now?" She surprised me by rolling her eyes and saying "Yes, I know!". The seat went to Labour, where it has remained ever since. Commented May 13, 2021 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


You can think of "price" as a noun. The words "what price X?" are a set headline phrase, that you can translate as "At what price do we buy X?", or "What does X cost us?".

The suggestion of such a headline is that the price may not have been examined, and that it may be too high.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .