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noun ex·pense \ik-ˈspen(t)s\

Simple Definition of expense

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

  • : an amount of money that must be spent especially regularly to pay for something

  • : something on which money is spent

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of expense

  1. 1 archaic :  the act or an instance of expending :  expenditure

  2. 2 a :  something expended to secure a benefit or bring about a result b :  financial burden or outlay :  cost <built the monument at their own expense> c :  an item of business outlay chargeable against revenue for a specific period

  3. 3 :  a cause or occasion of expenditure <an estate is a great expense>

  4. 4 :  a loss, detriment, or embarrassment that results from some action or gain :  sacrifice <everyone had a good laugh at my expense> —usually used in the phrase at the expense of <develop a boy's physique at the expense of his intelligence — Bertrand Russell>

Examples of expense in a sentence

  1. I don't think a first-class ticket is worth the added expense.

  2. The annual fee is simply an expense of doing business.

  3. A new car is a major expense.

Origin and Etymology of expense

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin expensa, from Latin, feminine of expensus, past participle of expendere

First Known Use: 14th century



verb ex·pense

Definition of expense



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to charge with expenses

  3. 2 a :  to charge to an expense account b :  to write off as an expense

Circa 1909

First Known Use of expense

circa 1909

EXPENSE Defined for Kids


noun ex·pense \ik-ˈspens\

Definition of expense for Students

  1. 1 :  something spent or required to be spent :  cost

  2. 2 :  a cause for spending <A car can be a great expense.>

Law Dictionary



noun ex·pense

Legal Definition of expense

  1. :  financial burden or outlay; specifically :  an item of business outlay chargeable against revenue for a specific period business expense :  an expense made in furtherance of one's business especially as part of the cost of operating a business in the taxable year in which the expense is incurred — compare capital expense and personal expense in this entry Editor's note: Business expenses are generally tax deductible in the year the expense is incurred. capital expense :  an expense made in a business that will provide a long-term benefit :  capital expenditure Editor's note: Capital expenses are not tax deductible as business expenses but may be used for depreciation or amortization. moving expense :  an expense incurred in changing one's residence that is tax deductible if incurred for business reasons (as when one's job requires relocation) ordinary and necessary expense :  an expense that is normal or customary and helpful and appropriate for the operation of a particular business or trade and that is made during the taxable year —called also ordinary and necessary business expense Editor's note: Ordinary and necessary expenses are tax deductible. personal expense :  an expense incurred in the course of one's personal affairs as distinguished from the course of one's employment or the operation of a business — compare business expense in this entry Editor's note: Personal expenses are usually not tax deductible.



transitive verb ex·pense

Legal Definition of expense



  1. 1 :  to charge with expenses

  2. 2 :  to write off as an expense

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