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

Many dream of capturing stronger winds even higher up than that, but building taller turbine masts and constructing blades able to withstand the terrifying stresses involved in high-altitude wind gathering are costly. The Economist, "An innovative approach to making electricity from the wind," 7 June 2019 Levin has been an effective fundraiser and the race is likely to be costly, given that the 49th District includes multiple media markets. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Local business owner Mara Fortin announces bid to challenge Rep. Mike Levin in 2020," 6 June 2019 Shifting a manufacturing base to another country can be costly and take months, or much longer, to set up. Rachel Layne, CBS News, "Trump's Mexico tariffs may send manufacturers packing -- again," 5 June 2019 Huawei equipment can be much cheaper than equivalent parts from other companies, and hiring someone with the expertise to make the switch would also be costly. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Ripping Huawei out of US networks could be a nightmare for rural providers," 5 June 2019 The victory was costly—she was forced to have her thyroid removed. Justin Barrasso,, "Tatiana Suarez Doesn't Fear Challengers After Tapping Out Cancer," 5 June 2019 But extracting these cannabinoids from the buds of the plant is costly, energy-intensive, and often toxic, resulting in chemical byproducts that pollute watersheds. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Use Yeast to Produce Cannabinoids Affordably and Efficiently," 1 Mar. 2019 Meanwhile, cultured pearls, also beautiful and not as costly, came on the market. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "A Rare Natural Pearl That Once Belonged to a Spanish Princess Is For Sale," 14 May 2019 Otherwise, our nations may soon be entrenched in a nuclear standoff more precarious, disorienting and economically costly than the Cold War. George P. Shultz, WSJ, "The Threat of Nuclear War Is Still With Us," 10 Apr. 2019

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

10 Jun 2019

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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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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