1 of 2


: the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something : price
The average cost of a college education has gone up dramatically.
: 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.
: loss or penalty incurred especially in gaining something
the cost of lives during war
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
costless adjective
costlessly adverb


2 of 2


cost; costing

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
Each ticket costs 25 dollars.
: to cause to pay, suffer, or lose something
Frequent absences cost him his job.
past costed ˈkä-stəd How to pronounce cost (audio) : to estimate or set the cost of
often used with out
The project has yet to be costed out.
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 in a Sentence

Noun 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? Verb 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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
In 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rode against strong domestic opposition to dismantle these settlements, citing the security and financial cost to Israel, as well as Palestinian rights. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 22 Nov. 2023 Thyssenkrupp reported net loss for the fourth quarter and its fiscal year on a tougher market that included higher costs and lower earnings at Steel Europe. David Sachs, WSJ, 22 Nov. 2023 Now, faced with housing shortages and tensions over immigration, there’s a new consensus against unbridled growth at all costs. April Roach, Fortune Europe, 21 Nov. 2023 Dangling a telescope from a balloon more than 30 kilometers up offered an ideal solution, achieving nearly the same resolution as a space telescope at a fraction of the cost. IEEE Spectrum, 21 Nov. 2023 Most of the revenue is used to cover the costs of enforcement. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Nov. 2023 Price The best fall candles can vary in cost based on several factors like size, wax type, and brand. Michelle Rostamian, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Nov. 2023 Burning less fossil fuel also improves air quality, reducing health care costs. Matt Simon, WIRED, 20 Nov. 2023 While those potential revenues aren’t calculated into the numbers, city finance officials warn that many potential costs are also absent. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Nov. 2023
Others, however, like the Aquasana Whole House Well Water Filter System, can cost a couple thousand dollars. Andrea Wurzburger, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Nov. 2023 The Troisgros enterprise is a major business, and the money that sustains it is discussed onscreen, as with the mentions of seating fifty-four diners for a lunch costing more than three hundred euros per head, and of bottles of wine that sell for ten, fifteen, even twenty thousand euros. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2023 Tickets for Friday’s game will cost $24 for general admission and $12 for students. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 The Department of Defense policy offering paid leave and travel reimbursement to service members for reproductive health care, including abortions, would cost less than $1 million annually, according to a new analysis published Friday. Nicole Wetsman, ABC News, 10 Nov. 2023 The state’s Senate contest last year, which pitted Senator Mark Kelly against Blake Masters, the Republican nominee, cost more than $225 million. Shane Goldmacher, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2023 Quoting analysis from trade publication Railway Age, grain-hauling railcars now cost over $600 per month to lease for 5-to-7-year terms, which is higher than in early 2020—when rates were around $400 per month. WSJ, 10 Nov. 2023 Overall, the six months of Hollywood strikes is estimated to have cost the Southern California economy more than $6.5 billion and 45,000 entertainment industry jobs. Okla Jones, Essence, 9 Nov. 2023 Potty trainer costs The cost of services ranges based on where the potty trainer and family reside and what the fair market value is in that region, with phone consultations being the more affordable option. Francyne Zeltser, Parents, 29 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cost.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use


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


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near cost

Cite this Entry

“Cost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: the amount paid or charged for something : price
: the loss or penalty involved in achieving a goal
won the battle at the cost of many lives
plural : legal expenses given to the winning side against the losing side
fined $50 and costs


2 of 2 verb
cost; costing
: to have a price of : require payment of
each ticket costs one dollar
: to cause one to pay, spend, or lose
mistakes cost him his job

Legal Definition


: the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something
plural : expenses incurred in litigation
especially : those given by the law or the court to the prevailing party against the losing party

More from Merriam-Webster on cost

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!