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

Definition of expense

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : financial burden or outlay : cost built the monument at their own expense
b : an item of business outlay chargeable against revenue for a specific period
c : something expended to secure a benefit or bring about a result
2 : a cause or occasion of expenditure an estate is a great expense
3 : 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 ofdevelop a boy's physique at the expense of his intelligence— Bertrand Russell
4 archaic : the act or an instance of expending : expenditure


expensed; expensing

Definition of expense (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to charge to an expense account
b : to write off as an expense
2 : to charge with expenses

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Examples of expense in a Sentence

Noun 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 In an Eastworld Spotlight conversation with Fortune, Huang argues that theChinese Communist Party has long derived its legitimacy from its ability to grow its economy, which often comes at the expense of the environment. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "What will it take for Beijing to meet its climate goals? Changing how it governs entirely," 22 Oct. 2020 Yet every day Bhatti sees patients who reject that evidence, sometimes at the expense of their own health. John Tozzi, Bloomberg.com, "Doctors Fight ‘Infodemic’ With Americans Seeing Virus as a Hoax," 21 Oct. 2020 Comfort will stay key for the foreseeable future, but no longer at the expense of style. Rachel Besser, Vogue, "Zara’s First Ever Lingerie Collection Prioritizes Comfort And Style," 21 Oct. 2020 Roughly 54% of Republicans believe that diversity efforts come at the expense of whites, compared with 34% of all Americans. William A. Galston, WSJ, "‘American Values’ Portend Trump’s Defeat," 20 Oct. 2020 Their challengers from the East this week are the Gamecocks, who got into the win column at the expense of Vanderbilt but could use another victory with more heft. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, "Five games in Week 7 that will impact the College Football Playoff," 16 Oct. 2020 Those backed by Iran have increasingly targeted U.S. facilities and troops, forcing American commanders to consolidate their positions in response, at the expense of the anti-ISIS battle. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Ultimatum signals modest US goal in Iraq: Avoid defeat," 15 Oct. 2020 Such moves, many researchers believe, are designed to advance the president’s political agenda at the expense of national interests. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "Trump has shown little respect for U.S. science. So why are some parts thriving?," 14 Oct. 2020 McCain was a leading force in the Senate behind the law that gave veterans an option to go outside the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system and get private care at public expense under certain conditions. Calvin Woodward And Hope Yen, chicagotribune.com, "Trump says he never called John McCain a ‘loser.’ He definitely did.," 5 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 lets businesses expense certain capital investments, but that provision begins to phase out in 2023. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "What business needs from the 2020 election," 30 Sep. 2020 If auto allowances are stopped, employees could instead expense mileage at the IRS standard of $.575 per mile, Lin wrote. Genevieve Bookwalter, chicagotribune.com, "Evanston reinstates monthly car allowance for some city employees, drawing questions from some aldermen," 4 Aug. 2020 Visa’s spending on personnel rose 8% in the quarter because the company continued to expense hiring from late last year. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Visa’s CEO on COVID-19’s effects: “We’re doing very little hiring right now”," 3 Aug. 2020 Noem made a similar announcement on Monday in Sioux Falls, which will be able to expense up to $41.5 million to federal funds the state has received. USA TODAY, "Shah Bar, infected ‘Idol,’ famed mall to close: News from around our 50 states," 24 June 2020 The company he co-founded, Salesforce.com Inc., helped boost sales by encouraging employees to buy and expense the book published last October. Nico Grant, Bloomberg.com, "Salesforce Encouraged Employees to Expense Co-CEO Marc Benioff’s Book," 29 Apr. 2020 MPs have also been granted permission to expense up to £10,000 in additional costs related to working from home. Adam Rasmi, Quartz, "Coronavirus is forcing Britain’s Parliament to finally embrace virtual work," 21 Apr. 2020 Gear from Lululemon One employee tried expensing more than $250 of clothing from the retailer, without even offering a business reason. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Private helicopter rides, strip clubs: 8 crazy things you put on your expense report," 12 Dec. 2019 Mileage tracking apps such as MileIQ and Hurdlr can help, as can expense management apps such as Expensify and Shoeboxed. Liz Weston, Dallas News, "How to avoid tax traps for your side hustle," 18 Mar. 2020

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 4


circa 1909, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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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Time Traveler for expense

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for expense

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Expense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expense. Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for expense


How to pronounce expense (audio)

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.

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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