ex·pense | \ik-ˈspen(t)s \

Definition of expense 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic : the act or an instance of expending : expenditure

2a : something expended to secure a benefit or bring about a result

b : financial burden or outlay : cost built the monument at their own expense

c : an item of business outlay chargeable against revenue for a specific period

3 : a cause or occasion of expenditure an estate is a great expense

4 : a loss, detriment, or embarrassment that results from some action or gain : sacrifice everyone had a good laugh at my expense usually used in the phrase at the expense of develop a boy's physique at the expense of his intelligence— Bertrand Russell


expensed; expensing

Definition of expense (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to charge with expenses

2a : to charge to an expense account

b : to write off as an expense

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Examples of expense in a Sentence


I don't think a first-class ticket is worth the added expense. The annual fee is simply an expense of doing business. A new car is a major expense.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Friends and family had raised a total of $24,904 over the past four days to support his family and pay for their travel expenses. Ruth Bruno, courant.com, "Waterford Airman Dies After Accident While Serving In United Arab Emirates," 13 July 2018 Stifel fired her that month following concerns about her expenses and contacted regulators. Justin Baer, WSJ, "Former New York Pension-Fund Executive Sentenced to 21 Months in Prison," 12 July 2018 And the boteros, those who work as private taxi drivers, must present receipts to justify all their deductible expenses. Latest news by email The afternoon's latest local news Recaptcha requires verification. Nora Gámez Torres, miamiherald, "Cuba imposes more taxes and controls on private sector and increases censorship on the arts," 10 July 2018 To succeed, Gawande will need to make clear who his real boss is — the employees or the business leaders who have an inherent interest in reducing their runaway health care expenses. Casey Ross, STAT, "As Atul Gawande steps into a risky health CEO role, here are five challenges he faces," 9 July 2018 Unlike the former administrator, however, none of his previous staffers have legal funds to offset their expenses. Juliet Eilperin And Brady Dennis, Washington Post, "Pruitt is out at EPA, but ethics probes might live on," 9 July 2018 As a result, Augur isn’t married to the Ethereum system, especially since fees associated with the blockchain are its biggest expense. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Ethereum-Based Blockchain Betting Platform Augur Just Launched. Here's Why It's Not Married to Either," 9 July 2018 There are two sides of the coin to consider: boosting your income and reducing your expenses. Marianne Hayes, Redbook, "How Much Money Do You Really Need to Retire?," 9 July 2018 First, look at your major expenses — rent, mortgage, car payments, etc. NBC News, "How the 50-20-30 rule can help you get out of debt and save money," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The company said in its annual report its capitalization of those costs is limited, and so some of them are expensed as they are incurred. Michael Rapoport, WSJ, "Streaming TV or Movie? Why It Matters to Amazon’s Profits," 8 July 2018 Team staffers also receive per diem, although some opt to decline the benefit in order to expense lavish meals. Jake Fischer, SI.com, "The Economics of a Las Vegas Summer League Invite," 12 July 2018 In April, Kevin Cramer expensed $1,152.75 to his campaign for mileage reimbursement during the first three months of 2018, according to federal campaign finance reports. Washington Post, "AP FACT CHECK: Rep. Kevin Cramer did drive 2,300 miles," 3 July 2018 Companies can make a lot of money at that price range and also keep their income up and expenses down. Katherine Feser, Houston Chronicle, "Q&A: Land broker Stan Creech says land prices are up with oil," 20 June 2018 This move violates rules that state the prime minister’s residence cannot expense catered meals while also employing a chef. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Sara Netanyahu Charged with Fraud and Breach of Trust in 'Meals-Ordering Affair'," 21 June 2018 Yet under accounting rules in place since the 1970s, intangibles are expensed rather than capitalized — unless they were acquired. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "What's a stock worth? In the new economy, traditional accounting has its critics," 8 June 2018 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, expenses decline on average from $55,892 for those ages 55 to 64 to $46,757 for those ages 65 to 74 and to $34,382 for those age 75 and older. Robert Powell, USA TODAY, "Separating retirement myths from retirement realities comes down to what works for you," 30 May 2018 The company expenses also rose by nearly 20 percent to $2.9 billion from $ 2.4 billion due to costs. Ryan Maye Handy, Houston Chronicle, "CenterPoint posts profit for first quarter," 4 May 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for expense


Middle English, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin expensa, from Latin, feminine of expensus, past participle of expendere

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Statistics for expense

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for expense

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

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More Definitions for expense



English Language Learners Definition of expense

: the amount of money that is needed to pay for or buy something

: an amount of money that must be spent especially regularly to pay for something

: something on which money is spent


ex·pense | \ik-ˈspens \

Kids Definition of expense

1 : something spent or required to be spent : cost

2 : a cause for spending A car can be a great expense.



Legal Definition of expense 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: financial burden or outlay specifically : an item of business outlay chargeable against revenue for a specific period

business expense

: an expense made in furtherance of one's business especially as part of the cost of operating a business in the taxable year in which the expense is incurred — compare capital expense and personal expense in this entry

Note: Business expenses are generally tax deductible in the year the expense is incurred.

capital expense

: an expense made in a business that will provide a long-term benefit : capital expenditure

Note: Capital expenses are not tax deductible as business expenses but may be used for depreciation or amortization.

moving expense

: an expense incurred in changing one's residence that is tax deductible if incurred for business reasons (as when one's job requires relocation)

ordinary and necessary expense

: an expense that is normal or customary and helpful and appropriate for the operation of a particular business or trade and that is made during the taxable year

called also ordinary and necessary business expense

Note: Ordinary and necessary expenses are tax deductible.

personal expense

: an expense incurred in the course of one's personal affairs as distinguished from the course of one's employment or the operation of a business — compare business expense in this entry

Note: Personal expenses are usually not tax deductible.


transitive verb
expensed; expensing

Legal Definition of expense (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to charge with expenses

2 : to write off as an expense

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Comments on expense

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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