opportunity cost


: the added cost of using resources (as for production or speculative investment) that is the difference between the actual value resulting from such use and that of an alternative (such as another use of the same resources or an investment of equal risk but greater return)

Examples of opportunity cost in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Sinking money into cash has also represented a big opportunity cost for defensive investors. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 22 June 2024 The other is confrontation, which Russian regimes require but cannot afford, and the opportunity costs of which are too high for the West. Stephen Kotkin, Foreign Affairs, 18 Apr. 2024 Shareholder pressure and the sheer opportunity cost of maintaining the capacity of plants, workers, and supply chains to ramp up production of millions of rounds of shells were immense. Thomas Meaney, Harper's Magazine, 26 Apr. 2024 The opportunity cost these students will incur because the Blueprint does not focus on their academic achievement will be significant. Chris Roemer, Baltimore Sun, 13 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for opportunity cost 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'opportunity 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

First Known Use

1894, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of opportunity cost was in 1894

Dictionary Entries Near opportunity cost

Cite this Entry

“Opportunity cost.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opportunity%20cost. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Legal Definition

opportunity cost

op·​por·​tu·​ni·​ty cost
: the cost of making an investment that is the difference between the return on one investment and the return on an alternative

More from Merriam-Webster on opportunity cost

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