1 of 2


: the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something : price
The average cost of a college education has gone up dramatically.
: 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.
: loss or penalty incurred especially in gaining something
the cost of lives during war
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
costless adjective
costlessly adverb


2 of 2


cost; costing

intransitive verb

: to require expenditure or payment
The best goods cost more.
: to require effort, suffering, or loss

transitive verb

: to have a price of
Each ticket costs 25 dollars.
: to cause to pay, suffer, or lose something
Frequent absences cost him his job.
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.
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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
That leaves a smaller pot of tax dollars to cover new costs or absorb unexpected revenue losses. Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald, 14 May 2024 Lael Brainard, director of the White House National Economic Council, said the tariffs will raise the cost of select Chinese goods and help thwart Beijing’s efforts to dominate the market for emerging technologies in ways that pose risks to U.S. national security and economic stability. Josh Boak, Fortune, 14 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for cost 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cost.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use


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


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near cost

Cite this Entry

“Cost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: the amount paid or charged for something : price
: the loss or penalty involved in achieving a goal
won the battle at the cost of many lives
plural : legal expenses given to the winning side against the losing side
fined $50 and costs


2 of 2 verb
cost; costing
: to have a price of : require payment of
each ticket costs one dollar
: to cause one to pay, spend, or lose
mistakes cost him his job

Legal Definition


: the amount or equivalent paid or charged for something
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

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