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Definition of OPPORTUNITY COST
: the added cost of using resources (as for production or speculative investment) that is the difference between the actual value resulting from such use and that of an alternative (as another use of the same resources or an investment of equal risk but greater return)
In economic terms, the opportunities forgone in the choice of one expenditure over others. For a consumer with a fixed income, the opportunity cost of buying a new dishwasher might be the value of a vacation trip never taken or several suits of clothes unbought. The concept of opportunity cost allows economists to examine the relative monetary values of various goods and services.