cost·​ly | \ ˈkȯs(t)-lē How to pronounce costly (audio) \
costlier; costliest

Definition of costly

1a : commanding a high price especially because of intrinsic worth costly gems
2 : made or done at heavy expense or sacrifice a costly mistake

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Other Words from costly

costliness noun

Examples of costly in a Sentence

We use less costly materials in our products. It was too costly to fix her car after the accident, so she decided to buy a new car instead. They won the game, but their best player was injured, so it was a costly victory. The decision to wait could be a costly mistake.
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Recent Examples on the Web Security guards were viewed as costly to the company's bottom line, the former executives also said. Moss Cohen, CNN, "Dollar General is cheap, popular and spreading across America. It's also a robbery magnet, police say," 26 June 2020 Most folks don't plant densely enough, no doubt because full sized ground cover and perennial plants are expensive, and planting dozens of them becomes costly. The Washington Post, "Adrian Higgins on bee hotels and all things gardening.," 25 June 2020 Unlike its private competitors, the Postal Service cannot refuse to make costly deliveries to especially hard-to-reach addresses. Will Weissert, Anchorage Daily News, "Mail-in ballots thrust Postal Service into presidential race," 25 June 2020 Having fun today could turn out to be costly in a number of ways., "Horoscope," 20 June 2020 But taking another run at DACA could prove costly for the president as the election looms. Obed Manuel, Dallas News, "What the Supreme Court’s DACA ruling means for immigrants, Trump," 18 June 2020 The erosion of transatlantic cooperation could prove costly as new global threats such as the current and future pandemics, climate change, cybercrime, and economic competition multiply. John Walcott, Time, "Unquiet on the Western Front: Why the 74-Year Alliance Between Europe and America is Falling Apart," 17 June 2020 But many buyers tend to overlook potential issues down the road that can prove costly. Washington Post, "Edmunds: Shoppers should think twice about long-term loans," 17 June 2020 This could eventually lead to a smaller, more effective and less costly police force, says David Eichenthal, a director of municipal budgeting consulting firm PFM. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "To stop police brutality, make it financially unsustainable," 6 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'costly.' 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 costly

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

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Time Traveler for costly

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for costly

Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Costly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for costly


How to pronounce costly (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of costly

: having a high price : costing a lot
: causing people to lose something or to suffer


cost·​ly | \ ˈkȯst-lē How to pronounce costly (audio) \
costlier; costliest

Kids Definition of costly

1 : having a high price or value : expensive
2 : causing loss or suffering a costly mistake

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More from Merriam-Webster on costly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for costly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with costly

Spanish Central: Translation of costly

Nglish: Translation of costly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of costly for Arabic Speakers

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