Definition of spend in English:



[with object]
  • 1Give (money) to pay for goods, services, or so as to benefit someone or something.

    ‘the firm has spent £100,000 on hardware’
    • ‘By now there should be nobody who doesn't agree that how much money we spend per pupil makes a difference.’
    • ‘We spent too much money on people that hate us and loathe us and want us out of their country.’
    pay out, lay out, expend, disburse
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Use or give out the whole of; exhaust.
      ‘she couldn't buy any more because she had already spent her money’
      ‘the initial surge of interest had spent itself’
      • ‘The lightning spent itself and the coach fell to the ground unconscious.’
      • ‘The last drops of the rainfall spattered heavily against the cobblestones as the storm spent itself and shook itself off.’
      • ‘She put her hands on her hips and watched as the can spent itself.’
      use up, consume, exhaust, deplete, drain
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  • 2Pass (time) in a specified way or in a particular place.

    ‘she spent a lot of time travelling’
    • ‘April passed, and Charlie spent her sixteenth birthday away from her family and away from Adam.’
    • ‘Earlier this month he spent ten days in the city which will host this year's Olympics in August.’
    • ‘A driver without a resident's pass wanting to spend three hours in Piccadilly car park must find £6 in coins.’
    • ‘The months passed, and I spent them staring directly at Benny during every class.’
    • ‘Even though he didn't go before a judge, he had to hire a lawyer and spent a year preparing his case.’
    • ‘You see, Summer and I had spent a good ten straight hours in the mall filling out applications to stores, and only one had answered.’
    • ‘‘They spend a lot of time with Bradley and I just filled up when they told me what they were doing,’ she said.’
    • ‘So he prepares meticulously, invites everyone he knows, and spends his days passing out flyers.’
    • ‘Here, she spent the next ten years of her life, brought up in an atmosphere of love and affection.’
    • ‘Last week the town council passed a motion to spend a day picking up litter around the town.’
    • ‘She now went into nursing full time and spent the next ten years working in England.’
    • ‘He spends time passing out pamphlets on the street and reading the Bible in our basement.’
    • ‘She spent a sleepless night passing along the police line searching out scraps of news.’
    • ‘I spent decades on benefits as a single parent bringing up children.’
    • ‘Leaving Ireland, aged 22, he spent ten years travelling across Europe, playing all the while.’
    • ‘As the hours passed they spent their time driving around the small commercial area, looking at all there was to look at.’
    • ‘I spent a laborious ten minutes updating my particulars, then pressed Save.’
    • ‘The ten celebrities will spend two weeks in Australia surviving on rice and water.’
    • ‘So the University hired contractors who spent weeks making sure that all systems were clean.’
    • ‘Plus, managers spend all their time hiring replacements rather than running your business.’
    pass, occupy, fill, take up, while away, use up
    put in, devote, employ
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  • An amount of money paid out.

    ‘the average spend at the cafe is £10 a head’
    • ‘He said that companies should maintain advertising spends, even in a climate where it may be more difficult to justify them.’
    • ‘Most major campaigns now factor in a spend of between 3 and 5 per cent of their budget on washroom advertising.’
    • ‘While some complain of London prices, the average spend is around £30, all in.’
    • ‘The average spend per child is continuing to rise year-on-year.’
    • ‘This still amounts to an aggregate spend of several millions.’
    • ‘Moreover, the average spend by overseas visitors in the county is significantly less than in other regions.’
    • ‘In Lancaster county alone, the number of visitors is five million annually and the spends are estimated at $400 million, on average.’
    • ‘Most of its advertising spend goes to local newspapers, much of it in Britain, and to local radio stations.’
    • ‘By selling wine in such large quantities, the company boosts its average spend per customer.’
    • ‘The company carefully monitors the effectiveness of its advertising spend, and monitors the sites from which punters travel to place bets.’
    • ‘They will also downsize their operations and cut back on both capital and advertising spend.’
    • ‘That is, the higher the spend on the advertising, the worse the movie is.’
    • ‘This has been achieved by increasing customer numbers and their average spend.’
    • ‘The figures represent an average spend of £45.50 per head but the UK still lags behind several other countries.’
    • ‘The total spend on both the games and the advertising for the Third Place campaign is around €3 million.’
    • ‘Health Boards around the country lowered their advertising spend by up to 50 per cent in recent months in order to trim costs.’
    • ‘The Government also spent less per person on health in 2001 than the average spend of 30 countries surveyed in the report.’
    • ‘The directories secure seven per cent of the advertising spend in Ireland.’
    • ‘Advertising spend all but dried up over July and August.’
    • ‘Microsoft group marketing manager Nick McGrath likens the spend to the amount used in launching a new car.’


  • spend a penny

    • informal Used euphemistically to refer to a need to urinate.

      ‘you can't get to sleep when you want to spend a penny’
      • ‘Women are demanding much more for their money from city centre toilets as the cost of spending a penny in York doubled.’
      • ‘Users will be asked to pay a pound if they want to spend a penny.’
      • ‘For years drinkers at The Sally Pussey Inn in Swindon Road have been spending a penny in the avocado-coloured urinals blissfully unaware that they may be worth quite a few pounds.’
      • ‘At the Lindale Post Office and General Store, villagers have been spending pounds on the National Lottery to ensure people can go on spending a penny in the public toilet.’
      • ‘However, if one wanted to spend a penny in the toilets in the grounds of the local Catholic Church they can be assured of them being clean.’
      • ‘‘I must just go and spend a penny,’ are his first words.’
      • ‘Supt Lacy said those caught spending a penny in public could be hit with maximum fines of £500.’
      • ‘For years visitors have complained about the lack of a suitable place to spend a penny in the tourist resort.’
      • ‘Bus drivers and travellers needing to spend a penny will have to cross their legs after the loos next to Chippenham's bus station were shut down this week.’
      • ‘Spare a thought for the workers who count the seconds as they dash to spend a penny.’


Old English spendan, from Latin expendere ‘pay out’; partly also a shortening of obsolete dispend, from Latin dispendere ‘pay out’.