ex·​pense | \ ik-ˈspen(t)s How to pronounce expense (audio) \

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

Recently, the agencies set aside $25 million out of the $720 million for urgent expenses. Bob Shaw, Twin Cities, "3M’s $850 million settlement could support city water connections," 9 Aug. 2019 In that legislation, the board declared the necessity to raise $6.1 million per year for operating expenses. Brian Lisik, cleveland.com, "Brunswick school board takes final step to place levy on November ballot," 6 Aug. 2019 Mariah’s father’s family has also set up a GoFundMe account for funeral expenses. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Prosecutor: Oceanside father stabbed 7-year-old daughter about 10 times," 6 Aug. 2019 In January, a Kentucky jury awarded Paul more than $580,000 in damages — $375,000 in punitive damages, $200,000 for pain and suffering, and $7,834 for medical expenses. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Rand Paul loses part of lung after attack by neighbor," 5 Aug. 2019 Experts also recommend affected people keep a close eye on their credit reports for any unexplained activity, watch their bank statements for any unfamiliar expenses, and even freeze their credit to stave off fraudsters. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "Capital One breach exposed bank data for the most financially vulnerable customers," 30 July 2019 In the meantime, Irby’s former housemates have set up a GoFundMe page for memorial expenses. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "25-year-old man killed at Gilroy Garlic Festival remembered as an athlete with a big heart," 29 July 2019 All the money will be used for regular state expenses. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "A statewide plastic bag tax takes effect Thursday. Here’s what you need to know before heading to the store.," 29 July 2019 At least $9 million of that has been paid to InfoCision for expenses reported as fundraising costs. Derek Willis, ProPublica, "How Fundraisers Convinced Conservatives to Donate $10 Million — Then Kept Almost All of It.," 26 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There are allegations that LaPierre expensed hundreds of thousands of dollars in luxury clothing purchased in Beverly Hills and that the NRA has made tens of thousands of dollars in payments to a handful of influential board members. CBS News, "Scandal-ridden NRA head Wayne LaPierre digs in against gun control," 9 Aug. 2019 Rick and Cliff decide to have one last hurrah as Rick’s expenses filming spaghetti westerns in Rome have crippled his finances. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' and the End of Tarantino," 31 July 2019 The bank is investigating any policy infraction, including expensing dinner ordered before the typical 6:30 p.m. cutoff but not doctoring receipts, some of the people familiar with the matter said. Coulter Jones, WSJ, "Wells Fargo Fires Bankers Amid Probe of Dinner Receipts That Were Allegedly Doctored," 30 Aug. 2018 The board also reviewed and accept its annual audit report; heard a bond implementation update and reviewed its Measure GG (bond) facilities expense report; and reviewed its budget. Laura Groch, sandiegouniontribune.com, "How they voted, Jan. 21," 21 Jan. 2018 Too Much Dear Enough: That the love, effort and expense your parents’ friends went to ended up down the drain is a shame. Jeanne Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "Dear Abby: Matriarch uses inheritance to keep her family in line," 5 July 2019 Now renovations are in the same category as home remodelings and must be expensed over 39 years. Mark Escamilla, WSJ, "Congress, Fix This Tax-Reform Glitch," 16 Aug. 2018 These days, the mood at ConsenSys is bleak; it’s clear the freewheeling days of expensing $14,000 in two weeks or buying day-of Emirates business-class tickets are over, says a source. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "ConsenSys plans to spin out most of its startups, and it’s going to mean layoffs," 20 Dec. 2018 For the first time, Lyft has become one of the Top 10 most frequently expensed U.S. business costs this quarter, according to new data from online travel and expense software company Certify. Rani Molla, Recode, "One way to track the rise of tech — check the expense reports," 25 Oct. 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

15 Aug 2019

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 How to pronounce expense (audio) \

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).


a period when something is suspended

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