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

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
The investment comes days after Microsoft announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees as part of broader cost-cutting measures. Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN, 23 Jan. 2023 CeeDee Lamb had a career season in his debut as the No. 1 receiver after the offseason trade of Amari Cooper in a cost-cutting move. Schuyler Dixon, ajc, 23 Jan. 2023 Amid the weakness, major corporations slashed more than 100,000 jobs last year, with the layoffs only intensifying in recent weeks as tech heavyweights Alphabet and Amazon announce their own cost-cutting measures. Jonathan Ponciano, Forbes, 23 Jan. 2023 At Google, the company has made a series of cost-cutting moves in recent months, canceling the next generation of its Pixelbook laptop and permanently shuttering Stadia, its cloud-gaming service. Arkansas Online, 21 Jan. 2023 Google has made a series of cost-cutting moves in recent months, canceling the next generation of its Pixelbook laptop and permanently shuttering Stadia, its cloud gaming service. Julia Love, Fortune, 20 Jan. 2023 Company officials have often cited economic uncertainty and fears of a recession in their job-cutting, cost-cutting decisions. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 20 Jan. 2023 Other cost-cutting efforts will hit advertising, insurance, software licensing, and janitorial services. Aaron Pressman,, 20 Jan. 2023 The family initially blamed Hutchins’ death on cost-cutting measures and reckless behavior by Baldwin and others. Meg James And Anousha Sakoui, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Jan. 2023
Another way to look at it is: Which application will cost the least to implement, manage, and maintain over 3 to 5 years based on my business model and growth metrics? Ben Debow, Forbes, 23 Jan. 2023 Those shares cost $370 apiece, an investment report showed. Rebecca Elliott, WSJ, 23 Jan. 2023 The company is developing a cheaper headset, Gurman reported last week, but even that might still cost quite a bit; the more affordable device could have a price closer to $1,500. Jay Peters, The Verge, 23 Jan. 2023 Replacing the faulty lighting system will cost $1.2 million, district officials said in an Aug. 26 letter. Kate Armanini,, 23 Jan. 2023 In 2022, the average hotel stay in the six-county Cleveland region cost $120.26 per night, up from $107.16 in 2019; downtown rates increased even more, from $154.77 in 2019 to $178.65 in 2022. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 23 Jan. 2023 Running the software is tipped to cost parent company OpenAI a small fortune every month. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 23 Jan. 2023 The county Registrar of Voters estimated that a special election to fill the vacancy would cost $350,000 to $600,000, but could go even higher due to new state election rules, said a city staff report. Joe Tash, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Jan. 2023 Depending on the size and model, carts cost up to $250, said Alex Poulos, a sales director at R.W. Rogers Company, which supplies carts and other equipment to stores. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, 21 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cost.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 2 Feb. 2023.

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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