Definition of cost in English:



  • 1(of an object or an action) require the payment of (a specified sum of money) before it can be acquired or done.

    ‘each issue of the magazine costs $2.25’
    • ‘With delays and changes to software requirements costing extra money, there is always the danger that projects could spin out of control, ultimately delaying services and profits.’
    • ‘A North Yorkshire museum is so unpopular it costs council tax payers a whopping £9.78 per visitor to keep it open.’
    • ‘He suggested that the quality of the work was better than much of what was done in the private sector today costing large sums of money.’
    • ‘The empire cost a vast sum of money to run and trade brought in much of that money.’
    • ‘Some of these benefits cost significant sums of money to provide.’
    • ‘It costs a reasonable sum of money to get in, and it never struck me as being worthwhile to pay it for a quick lunchtime scan.’
    • ‘On the flip side of the coin they cost the British tax payer millions every year, and have become out of touch with the public.’
    • ‘A pay hike for staff and an increase in NI payments are costing millions.’
    • ‘Answering such questions would require collecting better evidence, which costs real money.’
    • ‘Expansion costs money, but revenue has never been a problem for this entrepreneur.’
    • ‘The Government's removal of tax relief on dividend payments has cost the pensions industry billions of pounds.’
    • ‘She must dial a long distance number, which can cost great sums of money for extended Internet use.’
    • ‘Books cost money and require the user to read them for the idea to spread.’
    • ‘It costs money to restore these buildings and keep them in good order.’
    • ‘He says that their current ad campaign is costing a five-figure sum.’
    • ‘But the arrangement, plus the cost of essential repairs and maintenance, means it is costing council tax payers £66,000 a year just to keep the building ticking over.’
    • ‘It costs money to improve security and make those kind of things happen.’
    • ‘His last jaunt to Bermuda cost the princely sum of 27.50 a night.’
    • ‘The four-year Olympic cycle for preparation of Bulgaria cost the humble sum of seven million leva.’
    • ‘Major alterations costing huge sums had been made to the building to make it suitable for the regeneration scheme.’
    be priced at, sell for, be valued at, fetch, come to, amount to, be
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    1. 1.1Cause the loss of.
      ‘driving at more than double the speed limit cost the woman her driving license’
      • ‘The player, whose careless touches cost Aberdeen possession all afternoon, hooked it over the bar with his left foot.’
      • ‘In 1966, this hazardous situation led to a catastrophe costing the lives of 44 men, injuring hundreds more, and causing millions of dollars of damage.’
      • ‘He had a fly ball sail over his head for a double, and it cost the team three runs.’
      • ‘It's the same arrogance that cost them the General Election.’
      • ‘It was a lack of putting touch that cost him the chance of achieving his long-held dream of playing in The Open.’
      • ‘The slight loss of concentration in the final corner which cost her a skeleton medal on Friday highlighted the point.’
      • ‘As many as 300,000 are employed in restaurants, hotels and other travel-related business and officials say the attack could end up costing half of them their jobs.’
      • ‘The two drivers were involved in a mishap on the track that cost him the lead and put him out of the race.’
      • ‘The midweek loss cost the Celts second place in the table.’
      • ‘That loss a couple of weeks ago probably cost the Dubliners their league chances but this game is not about revenge.’
      • ‘In the space of 15 minutes they struck the ball wide on four occasions and this cost them the game.’
      • ‘He was then seriously injured in a car accident that nearly cost him his leg.’
      • ‘In both away matches this season, Livi have sat in and invited attack, which duly cost them goals.’
      • ‘It was the Hokies' only loss, and it cost them another shot at a national title.’
      • ‘Two of the women suing told yesterday how the side effects almost cost them their lives.’
      • ‘Again the ineffectiveness of him cost the attack much of its ability to maintain serious pressure.’
      • ‘But local wildlife officials have vetoed this idea so far, he said, and this has cost him clients.’
      • ‘It was a huge risk that could have cost him his job.’
      • ‘To me, this effort is costing him power and accuracy.’
      • ‘A factory worker has won a payout of more than £100,000 after an accident at work cost him his left hand.’
      cause the loss of, cause the sacrifice of, lead to the end of
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    2. 1.2informal Be expensive for (someone)
      ‘if you want to own an island, it'll cost you’
      • ‘He did not want to consider the public tendencies then and he did the same thing now, two years afterwards, which cost him.’
      • ‘There are too many things that cost and not enough stuff that doesn't cost you.’
      • ‘The garbage may also cost us again when we accidentally throw away important information.’
      • ‘I will never regret my decision to go public, even though it has cost me greatly in many ways.’
  • 2Estimate the price of.

    ‘it is their job to plan and cost a media schedule for the campaign’
    • ‘It's not costed into the price of our t-shirts.’
    • ‘The station, in its application to the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, states that its plan has been fully costed and the necessary finance is in place, confirmed and available.’
    • ‘Will you please now prepare detailed and fully costed contingency plans?’
    • ‘They have always had costed plans to make sure pensions are funded generously.’
    • ‘First, if a comprehensive Schedule of Dilapidations is costed the cost which the tenant would have had to incur to comply with the repairing covenants is ascertained.’
    • ‘It has to be confiscation, not purchase, as the ‘retrieval’ was not costed, or any price quoted.’
    • ‘Mr Gwynn said those ideas would then be turned into a plan that would be costed out and presented to the Government.’
    • ‘Has anyone costed the price of a unit of electricity?’
    • ‘He said details of Labor's fully costed plan would have to wait until closer to the election.’
    • ‘He did criticise them for failing to cost their plans properly.’
    • ‘No, New Labour refuted the advert because they say the plans aren't costed properly.’
    • ‘On March 27 a one day course on Manual Payroll is planned and on April 10 you can attend a one day course on pricing and costing techniques.’
    • ‘He said the plans would be carefully costed and clear for all to see.’
    • ‘They also insisted that the plan had been fully costed and could even save the NHS money.’
    • ‘Two public meetings will be held to discuss the plans, which will then be modified and a fully costed business plan will be drawn up to gain funding.’
    • ‘This would form the basis for plans which can be costed and a suitable site found.’
    value, price, put a price on, put a value on, put a figure on, estimate the cost of, estimate the price of, evaluate
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  • 1An amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something.

    ‘we are able to cover the cost of the event’
    ‘health care costs’
    [mass noun] ‘the tunnel has been built at no cost to the state’
    • ‘But it incurs the additional sunk cost of setting up a foreign plant.’
    • ‘With budgets tight, people are choosing to cut extra costs in order to save.’
    • ‘After all, after World War I, it used to cover the cost of pretty much any college degree.’
    • ‘She defended her decision to ask the students for the amount to cover the cost of repair.’
    • ‘The entrance fee of £1.50 will cover the cost of tea or coffee with biscuits.’
    • ‘The result is a significantly reduced total cost of ownership for the storage infrastructure.’
    • ‘All need to raise a substantial amount of money to cover the cost of flights, accommodation and expenses for the nine-day trip.’
    • ‘In many regions, the amount of cash payments for travel did not cover the cost of a monthly pass.’
    • ‘Now that the industry is approaching its mature phase, prices can afford to rise to cover average total cost.’
    • ‘The fee per session is 5 euro to cover the cost of coaching and insurance.’
    • ‘If this amount cannot cover the cost of the claim, then the balance is met out of the public purse.’
    • ‘He says the vandalism is so commonplace costs for groups to use the community hall are set to help cover the cost of repairs.’
    • ‘Also, what you save on plane tickets alone might cover the cost of one cruise.’
    • ‘Another factor to consider is the high costs associated with repairing major appliances.’
    • ‘To support the show and to help cover the cost of prize money, we are selling advertising for the night.’
    • ‘They may also incur additional operating costs into the future.’
    • ‘Envelopes for people wishing to give a donation to cover the cost of maintenance are now available.’
    • ‘The amount is only enough to cover the cost of transportation and food.’
    • ‘Did the fuel tanker rebuild facility request a higher average cost per unit?’
    • ‘They've had to work 10 % harder to raise funds to cover increased running costs.’
    price, asking price, market price, selling price, fee, tariff, fare, toll, levy, charge, hire charge, rental
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    1. 1.1The effort, loss, or sacrifice necessary to achieve or obtain something.
      ‘she averted a train accident at the cost of her life’
      • ‘Such a channel bonanza, however, may come at the cost of sacrificing channel capacity.’
      • ‘Of course we all want to see all possible diseases cured, but surely not at the cost of human sacrifice?’
      • ‘These give excellent levels of grip on tarmac and in mud, but this is at the cost of some tyre rumble and a slight loss of precision.’
      • ‘In this situation entrepreneurs are said to achieve prosperity at the cost of human lives.’
      • ‘Higher real wages were therefore achieved at the cost of tighter work discipline and an increase in the workload.’
      • ‘I only hope that my newly achieved rights and freedoms will not be at the cost of someone else's.’
      • ‘In addition, while conservative, this assumption is made at the cost of a great loss in power.’
      • ‘The loss of drums and effects doesn't come at the cost of intensity; quite the reverse.’
      • ‘The stability of his government was achieved at the cost of an inability to introduce a crucial but divisive reform of the pension system.’
      • ‘The worst off aren't helped if equality is achieved at the cost of them getting poorer.’
      • ‘To wait until such a time as when you have complete understanding, at the cost of so many lives, is the failure of leadership.’
      • ‘This is especially the case in minimizing labor costs, which is often achieved at the cost of the rights of workers.’
      • ‘It has since clawed back market share, but only at the cost of sacrificing a good chunk of profit margin.’
      • ‘The use of quality criteria makes comparison of trials easier to understand, but at the cost of inevitable loss of accuracy.’
      • ‘But in their own way they give him the best they can even at the cost of sacrificing things for themselves.’
      • ‘It can reduce the risks from these bugs, at the cost of modest effort on the part of the programmer.’
      • ‘She did it twice and repaired the rigging, but at the cost of damage to herself.’
      • ‘It's economic success has been achieved at the cost of considerable environmental degradation.’
      • ‘Sometimes, early success is achieved at the cost of a child's childhood.’
      • ‘Yet visual primacy is often at the cost of more effective aural forms of communication.’
      penalty, sacrifice, loss
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    2. 1.2Legal expenses, especially those allowed in favor of the winning party or against the losing party in a suit.
      expenses, outgoings, disbursements, overheads, running costs, operating costs, fixed costs
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  • at all costs (or at any cost)

    • Regardless of the price to be paid or the effort needed.

      ‘he was anxious to avoid war at all costs’
      • ‘Neutrality is a position of principle which should not be bartered at any cost or for any price.’
      • ‘It made me realise that war was not to be entered into lightly, and, indeed, was to be avoided at all costs if at all possible.’
      • ‘Investors bailed out, fearing it had decided to take control of a US business at any cost in an effort to take its brand across the Atlantic.’
      • ‘It seems that their agenda is growth at any cost regardless of the wishes of the people.’
      • ‘No country can touch them in terms of talent but something was lost along the way - the drive for winning at all costs.’
      • ‘It is more a reflection on the desire to win at all costs rather than an indictment of science.’
      • ‘The use of abusive language and mudslinging or character assassination should be avoided at any cost.’
      • ‘He said the policy of the ministry is to keep the price of fuel low at all costs.’
      • ‘My case was not about justice, but about the government's determination to win at all costs.’
      • ‘He is a sore loser who wants to win at all costs, always and everywhere.’
  • at cost

    • At cost price; without profit to the seller.

      • ‘‘We're going to offer these carts at cost when we're done using them,’ said Jones.’
      • ‘It was painful to think about selling it at cost.’
      • ‘The remaining property assets are still included in the balance sheet at cost or at existing use valuations that are more than a decade old.’
      • ‘But for most retailers who essentially sell diapers at cost, the extra effort is more daunting - with no significant payoff.’
      • ‘The second problem is that once you reach the level of success of a classic, selling at cost is no fun at all.’
      • ‘The two units sell inventory back and forth at cost.’
      • ‘Property and equipment are stated at cost and depreciated using the straight-line method over estimated useful lives of 3 to 10 years.’
      • ‘It was owned by the shareholders of its 11 funds and provided the administrative services to them at cost.’
      • ‘In contrast, many short term fixed rate deals available exclusively to new borrowers were sold at cost or even a slight loss.’
      • ‘More importantly, they own the investment manager, which operates at cost.’
  • cost an arm and a leg

    • informal Be extremely expensive.

      • ‘In Scotland, fishing of this calibre would cost an arm and a leg, and would probably be booked out year after year.’
      • ‘These were animals with a wealth of breeding behind them, stock which would cost an arm and a leg to replace if indeed they ever could be replaced.’
      • ‘She knew it ‘was costing an arm and a leg’ so she wished us well before I had spent the price of a pint on the call.’
      • ‘It won't cost an arm and a leg to upgrade it and, hopefully, the work will commence sooner rather than later.’
      • ‘It may still be one of the glitziest games on earth but it no longer needs to cost an arm and a leg to watch the sport, or even to play it.’
      • ‘Clearly it would cost an arm and a leg to rebuild.’
      • ‘‘It costs an arm and a leg to keep this church going,’ she said, while noting, ‘The elderly worshipers have been very true to their offerings.’’
      • ‘Any private insurance scheme would cost an arm and a leg to collect in comparison to that, so why bother?’
      • ‘And, remember, it costs an arm and a leg to raise a family these days.’
      • ‘Try living on that in London, where a cup of coffee costs an arm and a leg.’
      • ‘I heard good food around here costs an arm and a leg.’
      • ‘Just because something costs an arm and a leg, doesn't mean it's the best thing in the world, ‘she objected.’’
      • ‘According to Scott: ‘The good news is that a car with sex appeal doesn't necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg.’
      • ‘But this is one of Sweden's more traditional national sports, born out of long and deeply chilly winter evenings in a country where alcohol costs an arm and a leg.’
      • ‘We will be sorry to leave St John House but it is a listed building and costs an arm and a leg to keep maintained.’
      • ‘But remember to leave time to ski back to base - taxis up and down the intervening valleys can cost an arm and a leg.’
      • ‘It was costing an arm and a leg and it would not have been commercially acceptable to the parent companies of either companies to have carried on spending the sort of money necessary.’
      • ‘I expect the meals will cost an arm and a leg, in a town where shops get 80 applications for counter jobs.’
      • ‘Traditional paddling pools are fun and, more importantly, do not cost an arm and a leg, so they sell well.’
      • ‘‘I told him I wanted a system that didn't cost an arm and a leg,’ says O'Callaghan.’
    • informal

      see arm
  • cost someone dearly (or dear)

    • Involve someone in a serious loss or a heavy penalty.

      ‘they were really bad mistakes on my part and they cost us dearly’
      • ‘Factory farming costs us, and the animals involved, dearly.’
      • ‘It's a tough movie to watch at times and whatever redemption its characters find costs them dearly.’
      • ‘His two losses in a row in the fifth and sixth rounds cost him dearly.’
      • ‘Impulse buys and rash decisions might end up costing you dear.’
      • ‘The poor set-pieces nearly cost them dear on the half-hour mark.’
      • ‘Mr Bloomer's failure to do so may end up costing him dear.’
      • ‘On paper they are a formidable outfit but poor decision making and a concession of penalties are costing them dearly.’
      • ‘These extended redemption penalties can cost you dearly in the long run.’
      • ‘For 88 minutes of games we are working well but then it's a lack of concentration all over the pitch and those mistakes are costing us dear.’


Middle English: from Old French coust (noun), couster (verb), based on Latin constare stand firm, stand at a price.