What does It Mean to Have “Deep Pockets”? Overview, 3 Facts

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “They pursued him because he has deep finances,” you may have questioned what it means.

Simply expressed, it indicates that the individual in issue has an abundance of wealth or resources. The expression “deep pockets” once again refers to riches or assets when applied to a corporation or other organization.

What does It Mean to Have “Deep Pockets”?

Deep pocket is an American slang word that often refers to “considerable financial riches or resources.” It is often used to large corporations or organizations (e.g., the American cigarette businesses have “deep pockets”), but it may also be applied to affluent people (e.g., Bill Gates and Warren Buffett).

What does It Mean to Have "Deep Pockets"?

In the context of a litigation, the deep pocket is frequently the defendant of choice, even though the genuine (moral) blame lies with another party, because the deep pocket has the financial resources to pay a judgement.

For instance, a lawyer may explain that he or she sued the manufacturer of a product rather than the sale since the manufacturer has deeper pockets, i.e., more money than the seller with which to recompense the victim and benefit the lawyer.

Deep pocket as a slang term

The phrase “deep pockets” (also given as “deep pocket” and “deep-pocketed”) is documented seldom from the 1940s through the 1960s, but gained popularity during the 1970s lawsuit boom.

What does It Mean to Have "Deep Pockets"?

A person (often mocked as “miserly” or “cheap”) with “short arms and large pockets” saves money and spends it infrequently. The phrase “short arms and deep/long pockets” is at least 52 years old.

In Ireland, this expression was associated with a wealthy businessman from Tipperary who, upon finishing his round of drinks, would smash his glass on the floor, knowing that the bar owner would ask him to leave. This was also referred to as the “O’Shea Fiddle.”

Deep pocket in law and economics

Deep pocket is a common term in tort law and tort law economics. It refers to the notion that the risk of an action should be handled by a person who is comparatively capable of handling it.

This can be accomplished either by distributing the risk among a large number of risk-bearers (often through insurance) or by placing it on a sufficiently risk-neutral individual.

What does It Mean to Have "Deep Pockets"?

It is commonly considered that the latter is true for rich individuals or large businesses, who are referred to as having “deep pockets,” as their wealth will not be significantly harmed if the danger materializes.

For instance, among other justifications, a deep-pocket argument might be used to explain product responsibility, as manufacturers with “deep pockets” are often better equipped to absorb the risk of losses than ordinary customers.

The Iowa Supreme Court designated these legal ideas as deep pocket jurisprudence in 2014. An examination revealed four types of application:

In accordance with the principle of innovator responsibility, the creator of a product is accountable for any damages produced by subsequent production of the same product.

Governments may sue manufacturers and anybody in the supply chain for damages resulting from independent misuse or abuse of a product, holding them widely accountable.

Businesses might be held accountable for injuries caused by workers of independent contractors.

What does It Mean to Have "Deep Pockets"?

When the genuine party at responsibility for abusing a product is unable to pay for damages, the manufacturer may be held accountable based on a speculative hypothesis that the product’s design contributed to the accident.

A version of the word refers to the specific subtype of frivolous litigation in which plaintiffs target affluent or corporate defendants for no reason other than their money.

These instances contain plaintiffs who have experienced legitimate damages, but the ultimate blame falls solely with an individual or tiny organization that has very little money that may be recovered in the event of a successful lawsuit.

Instead, the plaintiff typically pursues the next huge firm or rich defendant with a flimsy claim of negligence.

What does It Mean to Have "Deep Pockets"?

A common example is a victim of a criminal shooting who sues the firearm’s maker instead of the perpetrator. Such legislation like the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is often enacted to prevent such litigation.


“Deep pockets” is a slang term denoting riches, however it can be applied in a variety of contexts. For instance, the phrase large pockets may also be used to denote a “target” or a wealthy individual who could be used in a scam.

In other contexts, the term may also refer to rich investors. If a person is seeking for an investor, he or she will want to discover one with large funds.

The word originated as a method to characterize a person who is better equipped than others to absorb danger.

The concept of dipping into someone’s pocket or allowing him to foot the tab for a dangerous endeavor contributed to the popularity of this word. Although “deep pockets” is still used today, it is not as prevalent as it once was for a variety of reasons.

What does It Mean to Have "Deep Pockets"?

Some consider the phrase “deep pockets” to be a tacky allusion, whilst others believe its use has diminished due to the vastly increased wealth and number of affluent individuals and organizations in the modern world.

The idea of pursuing the wealthiest people or business in order to obtain the greatest settlement is an often utilized concept in the modern day, where great wealth is commonplace.

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Pat Moriarty
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