\ˈkȯst \

Definition of cost 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something : price The average cost of a college education has gone up dramatically.

b : the outlay or expenditure (as of effort or sacrifice) made to achieve an object He achieved fame, but at the cost of losing several friends.

2 : loss or penalty incurred especially in gaining something the cost of lives during war

3 costs plural : expenses incurred in a judicial process especially : those given by the law or the court to the prevailing party against the losing party

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


cost; costing

Definition of cost (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to require expenditure or payment The best goods cost more.

2 : to require effort, suffering, or loss

transitive verb

1 : to have a price of Each ticket costs 25 dollars.

2 : to cause to pay, suffer, or lose something Frequent absences cost him his job.

3 past costed\ ˈkä-​stəd \ : to estimate or set the cost of often used with out The project has yet to be costed out.

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Other Words from cost


costless \ ˈkȯst-​ləs \ adjective
costlessly adverb

Synonyms for cost

Synonyms: Noun

ante, charge, damage, fee, figure, freight, price, price tag

Synonyms: Verb

bring, fetch, go (for), run, sell (for)

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Examples of cost in a Sentence


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


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

Critics say many mom-and-pop stores have been forced to reduce employment or opening hours to counter rising labor costs. Kwanwoo Jun, WSJ, "South Korean Leader Shakes Up Finance Team," 9 Nov. 2018 And if Trump is reelected in 2020, Democratic failure in the Senate would carry graver costs for Democrats. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "The Senate is a huge problem for Democrats," 8 Nov. 2018 The swarms of low-cost, disposable flying objects could perform tasks that no single spacecraft can do on its own. Steve Nadis, Discover Magazine, "The Tiny Satellites That Might Fly to Another Solar System," 18 Oct. 2018 Similarly, cutting out the Android Things and Qualcomm package under the hood could be seen as a cost-cutting move. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google Home Hub—Under the hood, it’s nothing like other Google smart displays," 10 Oct. 2018 Even with more sustainable plans for venue re-use, the Games can be a significant financial burden, with costs for security alone running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Olympics try more city-friendly bid process: Will it work?," 8 Oct. 2018 That's roughly 134 times the average American's monthly costs for their mortgage, insurance, and utilities ($1,494). Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Beyonce And Jay-Z's Monthly Mortgage Might Cost More Than Your Entire House," 28 Sep. 2018 Shephard thinks a more realistic cost for the nuptials is around £2,684,020, which comes in at approximately $3.5 million. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Eugenie's Royal Wedding Is Costing More Than We Initially Thought," 22 Sep. 2018 The crisis first surfaced in 2014 when, according to CNN, the city started sourcing its water from the Flint River in a cost-cutting effort. Denise Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Miss Michigan Emily Sioma's Flint Water Crisis Shoutout Made a Splash at Miss America 2019," 10 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Meanwhile, Trump’s deployment of up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in advance of the migrant caravan is shaping up to cost $220 million, according to Defense Department officials. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: ‘You get an Amazon HQ2 and you get an Amazon HQ2!’," 6 Nov. 2018 This is probably a good thing, considering the fact that the cheapest Kona EV is likely to cost almost double the price of the cheapest internal combustion version. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "The new 2019 Hyundai Kona EV is a clever little electric crossover," 24 Oct. 2018 The Right to Repair movement is burgeoning, as customers are increasingly frustrated by phones that cost a fortune but only last a few years, bought on contracts that often lock them into months, or years, of payments. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Motorola Backs the Right to Repair with Kits for Your Phone," 24 Oct. 2018 The expansion of the Technical University of Munich’s campus is expected to cost around €100 million. Sonja Peteranderl, The Verge, "Bavaria’s space program shot to viral fame — but it may be in trouble," 20 Oct. 2018 Security and policing for Princess Eugenie's October 12 nuptials to Jack Brooksbank are estimated to cost British taxpayers £2 million ($2.5 million), according to a Mirror report in August. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "People Want Royals, Not Taxpayers, to Cover the $2.5 Million Security Bill for Princess Eugenie's Wedding," 28 Sep. 2018 The Price Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's wedding is estimated to cost around $3 million, which is a whole lot less than Harry and Meghan's reported $43 million. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "How Similar Will Princess Eugenie and Meghan Markle's Weddings Actually Be?," 28 Sep. 2018 Gilead, the maker of hepatitis C drugs that can cost more than $80,000 per treatment and therefore might be ripe for a price cut, is up 17.2%. Michael Hiltzik,, "Pfizer doesn't deserve any credit for 'rolling back' its price increases at Trump's demand. Here's why," 11 July 2018 The project is expected to cost nearly $12 billion and carve six runways across a swath of land as big as Manhattan. New York Times, "Turkey’s Economy Is So Hot That It May Face a Meltdown," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cost.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cost


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for cost


see cost entry 2


Middle English, from Anglo-French custer, couster, from Latin constare to stand firm, cost — more at constant

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Statistics for cost

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cost

The first known use of cost was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cost



English Language Learners Definition of cost

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of cost (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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

: to cause (someone) to lose something


\ˈkȯst \
cost; costing

Kids Definition of cost

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to have a price of He bought a ticket costing one dollar.

2 : to cause the payment, spending, or loss of Being lazy cost me my job.



Kids Definition of cost (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the amount paid or charged for something : price

2 : loss or penalty involved in gaining something Losing my friends was the cost of moving.



Legal Definition of cost 

1 : the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something

2  plural : expenses incurred in litigation especially : those given by the law or the court to the prevailing party against the losing party

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More from Merriam-Webster on cost

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cost

Spanish Central: Translation of cost

Nglish: Translation of cost for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cost for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cost

Comments on cost

What made you want to look up cost? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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