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
b : rich, splendid
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

Though interest remains, the momentum has been difficult (and costly) to maintain, as attention turns to Shanghai and parts further afield, while local success stories like Low Classic and Blindness have departed for Europe. Monica Kim, Vogue, "The 5 Designers to Know From Seoul Fashion Week Fall 2019," 29 Mar. 2019 The Broadway musical, one of the more costly and spectacle-driven shows to open in the last few seasons, has seen its grosses plummet in recent weeks, according to figures from the Broadway League, the industry’s trade group. Charles Passy, WSJ, "‘King Kong’ Can’t Get a Grip on Broadway," 11 Mar. 2019 Lawyers for the police department argued that the media’s public records requests were costly and time-consuming and releasing the information could disclose investigative techniques. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Las Vegas shooting witness accounts recall 'tons of gunshots,' 'people dead everywhere'," 2 Oct. 2018 Lyft and Uber both have placed their bets on a driverless future, pouring millions into research and development for autonomous systems that could be less costly than splitting fares with drivers. Faiz Siddiqui, The Seattle Times, "As it gets set for IPO, Lyft outlines all the reasons ride-sharing could fail," 25 Mar. 2019 Owning a machine is less costly over time compared to renting or hiring a professional to come by. Sarah Bogdan, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Carpet Cleaners to Buy in 2019," 15 Jan. 2019 One of the most costly aspects of the update will probably revolve around Frogmore Cottage's current lack of security. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Frogmore Cottage Renovations Sound Expensive," 27 Nov. 2018 What's funny about this though, this is the most costly game of hide the salami since Anthony Weiner. Fox News, "Gutfeld: The left is turning on the left," 15 Sep. 2018 But today, those capabilities became even less costly with the release of the Elgato Stream Deck Mini ($99.95 on Amazon). Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Elgato's Stream Deck Mini is smaller, cheaper, and just as full-featured as the bigger broadcaster tool," 24 July 2018

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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Statistics for costly

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for costly

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

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More Definitions for costly



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with costly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for costly

Spanish Central: Translation of costly

Nglish: Translation of costly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of costly for Arabic Speakers

Comments on costly

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


a secret plot to overthrow a government

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