noun \ˈkst\

: the price of something : the amount of money that is needed to pay for or buy something

: an amount of money that must be spent regularly to pay for something (such as running a business or raising a family)

: something that is lost, damaged, or given up in order to achieve or get something

Full Definition of COST

a :  the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something :  price
b :  the outlay or expenditure (as of effort or sacrifice) made to achieve an object
:  loss or penalty incurred especially in gaining something
plural :  expenses incurred in litigation; especially :  those given by the law or the court to the prevailing party against the losing party
cost·less \-ləs\ adjective
cost·less·ly adverb
at all costs
:  regardless of the cost or consequences <was determined to win at all costs>
at cost
:  for the price of production <buys clothes at cost directly from the manufacturer>

Examples of COST

  1. She attends college at a cost of $15,000 a year.
  2. The average cost of raising a family has increased dramatically.
  3. We offer services at a fraction of the cost of other companies.
  4. What's the difference in cost?
  5. They believe that everyone should have access to adequate medical care, regardless of cost.
  6. The cost of doing business in this area is high.
  7. We need better cost control.
  8. Winning the war, he believes, was worth the cost in lives.
  9. What are the costs and benefits of the new law?

First Known Use of COST

13th century

Other Economics Terms

actuary, compound interest, globalization, indemnity, portfolio, rentier, stagflation, usurer



: to have (an amount of money) as a price

: to cause (someone) to pay an amount of money

: to cause (someone) to lose something


Full Definition of COST

intransitive verb
:  to require expenditure or payment <the best goods cost more>
:  to require effort, suffering, or loss
transitive verb
:  to have a price of
:  to cause to pay, suffer, or lose something <frequent absences cost him his job>
past cost·ed :  to estimate or set the cost of —often used with out

Examples of COST

  1. The trip will cost you about $100 each way.
  2. The project will end up costing the government an estimated 3.5 billion dollars.
  3. It will cost you a lot of money, but it'll be worth it.
  4. His frequent absences ended up costing him his job.
  5. The error cost me a reprimand, but nothing more serious than that.
  6. a blunder that has cost her considerable embarrassment

Origin of COST

Middle English, from Anglo-French custer, couster, from Latin constare to stand firm, cost — more at constant
First Known Use: 14th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Monetary value of goods and services that producers and consumers purchase. In a basic economic sense, cost is the measure of the alternative opportunities forgone in the choice of one good or activity over others (see opportunity cost). For consumers, cost describes the price paid for goods and services. For producers, cost has to do with the relationship between the value of production inputs and the level of output. Total cost refers to all the expenses incurred in reaching a particular level of output; if total cost is divided by the quantity produced, average or unit cost is obtained. A portion of the total cost known as fixed cost (e.g., the costs of building rental or of heavy machinery) does not vary with the quantity produced and, in the short run, cannot be altered by increasing or decreasing production. Variable costs, like the costs of labour or raw materials, change with the level of output. Economic decisions are based on marginal cost, the additional cost of an incremental unit of production or consumption.


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