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

Other Words from cost


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

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: Noun There will be no cost to the city to participate, the city staff report states. Barbara Henry, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Oct. 2022 On average, the cost of setting up a vegetable garden is $238, according to a gardening study published in the Journal of Extension, with the average home vegetable garden producing a yield worth $677. Hiranmayi Srinivasan, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Oct. 2022 This is the cost of accepting the unacceptable: an even weaker foundation that the next disease will assail. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 30 Sep. 2022 The price of gasoline has gone up even as the cost of crude oil is down. Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Sep. 2022 The average cost of a gallon of gas was $6.30 in California on Friday, far above the national average of $3.80, according to AAA. Kathleen Ronayne, ajc, 30 Sep. 2022 There is no cost to the state, Nevada’s Health and Human Services spokesperson said. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 28 Sep. 2022 There is no cost for the students to attend the program which teaches them about fine cooking. Myrna Petlicki, Chicago Tribune, 27 Sep. 2022 To a certain extent, this is the cost of getting better photos out of a small device without the robust lenses of a professional camera. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, 21 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For this one example, the Comfort Electric choice was priced at $26.72, almost $10 more than the other EV choice, Uber Green, which cost $15.71. Jack Fitzgerald, Car and Driver, 19 Sep. 2022 The city admitted to violating Ohio's open meeting laws in a civil lawsuit, which cost taxpayers $101,000. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, 19 Sep. 2022 Money from the infrastructure law is also expected to help Metro pay for preventive maintenance, which can cost the agency more than $650 million a year, transit officials said. Justin George, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2022 Andrade and Munoz, who used a day off to go to Monday’s appointment, have taken a ride share car to the clinic before, which cost about $25. Alexandra Kukulka, Chicago Tribune, 19 Sep. 2022 The action drama, which cost $50 million to make, is exactly the type of success theaters need right now due to a dearth of new films for viewers to choose from. Frank Pallotta, CNN, 19 Sep. 2022 France’s Prime MinisterElisabeth Borne said on Wednesday that the government would cap power and gas prices for households at 15% next year to prevent household bills from doubling—a move which will cost the state €16 billion. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 16 Sep. 2022 Now was a logical time to pursue the study, which cost $330,000, because of the age of the building, coupled with the expiration of the lease and other management agreements, Freimuth said. Kenneth R. Gosselin, Hartford Courant, 14 Sep. 2022 Business groups are growing increasingly worried about the potential for a strike, which the Association of American Railroads, an industry group, warns could cost the U.S. economy some $2 billion a day. Eli M. Rosenberg, NBC News, 13 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About cost

Time Traveler for cost

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near cost




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for cost

Last Updated

4 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for cost


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on cost

Nglish: Translation of cost for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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