\ ˈkȯst How to pronounce cost (audio) \

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 How to pronounce costed (audio)\ : to estimate or set the cost of often used with out The project has yet to be costed out.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cost


costless \ ˈkȯst-​ləs How to pronounce costless (audio) \ adjective
costlessly adverb

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the 12-month period that ended in May, the consumer price index in the Los Angeles area rose 3.1% in part due to high housing costs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. James F. Peltz,, "Grocery strike rocked Southern California 16 years ago. It may happen again soon," 22 June 2019 Housing is the primary culprit, responsible for around 80% of the higher cost of living in California. The Economist, "WelfareCalifornia and Texas are both failing their neediest citizens," 22 June 2019 There’s certainly money to be made in the prequel business, but the high-costs of these big-budget movies don’t always mitigate the risk. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hunger Games' and the Pitfalls of a Prequel," 22 June 2019 Republicans generally favor limiting birth control prescriptions to women over the age of 18, while Democrats want to ensure that the change doesn’t lead to higher out-of-pocket costs. Abigail Abrams, Time, "Can Over-the-Counter Birth Control Become a Bipartisan Issue?," 21 June 2019 While some firms can absorb the higher costs, most consumer and tech companies opt to push at least some of the increased expense onto consumers. Rachel Layne, CBS News, "For Apple, scaling back in China is easier said than done," 21 June 2019 Back then, the discussions at the Massachusetts Business Roundtable’s energy committee were largely focused on the high cost of electricity. Jon Chesto,, "It’s true: Environmental and business groups are on the same page," 21 June 2019 The additional miles flown to avoid trouble spots mean higher costs for airlines, which together spend $180 billion a year on jet fuel. Charles Riley, CNN, "The Middle East has become a nightmare for airlines," 21 June 2019 Concerns about mercury content in fish and the protein’s high cost could both be contributing factors keeping seafood from gaining popularity in the American diet. Kaitlin Sullivan, NBC News, "Americans are still eating a lot of processed meats, study finds," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The first, 186-mile phase, costing $1.9bn (about 4% of GDP) is due to be completed in December. The Economist, "Tanzania’s president loves mega-projects. Careful planning, less so," 8 June 2019 The Waltz Road Bridge cost the county $2.5 million to replace. Kristi Tanner,, "FREE PRESS INVESTIGATION Thank heavens: They finally got their bridge fixed; many communities still suffer," 7 June 2019 The study will cost $35,000 plus travel expenses not to exceed $2,500 and will be shared between the village and its private partners. Michelle Mullins, Daily Southtown, "Homer Glen hires consultant to study if large sports complex would be a good fit in the village," 6 June 2019 That would cost the federal government about $315 billion over 10 years. USA Today, "'Can't pay their bills with love': For many teaching jobs, teachers' pay can't cover rent," 5 June 2019 The injury also cost him a summer playing in the vaunted Cape Cod League. Alex Schiffer, kansascity, "Mizzou baseball makes history in MLB Draft with two players selected before Round 2," 3 June 2019 The special is available from May 24 through May 27 and costs $34.99. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "These Are the Restaurants Open on Memorial Day in 2019," 16 May 2019 Starting all the platforms would cost Nornickel and Potanin $5 million to $6 million. Yuliya Fedorinova,, "Russia's Richest Man Plans Crypto Tokens Backed by Palladium," 27 Mar. 2019 This includes the Elements and Co-Pilot360 Plus packages, which cost the same as on the Standard trim. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "The 2020 Lincoln Corsair Can Cost More Than $60,000 Fully Loaded," 16 May 2019

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.

See More

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

Verb and Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cost

Dictionary Entries near cost







Costa Brava

Statistics for cost

Last Updated

26 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cost

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce cost (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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 take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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