Definition of spend in English:



  • 1Pay out (money) in buying or hiring goods or services.

    ‘the firm has spent $100,000 on hardware and software’
    • ‘If you do not want to spend the money on a tiller, you can hire someone or rent a tiller.’
    • ‘People who spend that much money are looking for a return on their investment.’
    • ‘That leaves less money for Americans to spend on domestic goods and services.’
    • ‘I had never spent so much money on anything and I had never owned anything so glamorous.’
    • ‘Corporate America's reluctance to spend and hire has been the biggest drag on this lackluster recovery.’
    • ‘New York spends more money, and employs more public workers per capita than most American cities.’
    • ‘It was forced to spend vast sums of money renovating stores.’
    • ‘Our hope is that we don't have to actually spend all the money.’
    • ‘At the same time, credit card companies and hire purchase outfits are queuing up to let us spend money we don't have yet.’
    • ‘It's not just a matter of how much money you spend on a film.’
    • ‘That boosts corporate profits, which gives businesses the power to spend and hire.’
    • ‘On the weekends, whenever I got paid I would spend all my money in the bar.’
    • ‘It's not like me or my friends ever had any real money to spend at the mall.’
    • ‘A man may spend his money on attending a concert or hiring a lawyer, for example, as well as on food or automobiles.’
    • ‘He suggests that a club owner spend the extra money to hire an accountant to formally close the books at the end of the year.’
    • ‘He grumbles when his wife spends too much money.’
    • ‘So adults had more money to spend on goods and services and invest in their families' education.’
    • ‘They hire their own publicity people and they go out and spend money on their own too.’
    • ‘I'd spend whatever money I had to hire investigators to come down, to follow people, to look at every lead they have.’
    • ‘Being a board member of our local animal shelter, I know that much of the money we spend on vet services goes to vaccinations.’
    1. 1.1 Pay out (money) for a particular person's benefit or for the improvement of something.
      ‘the college spent $140 on each of its students’
      • ‘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
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    2. 1.2 Used to show the activity in which someone is engaged or the place where they are living over a period of time.
      ‘she spent a lot of time traveling’
      • ‘Earlier this month he spent ten days in the city which will host this year's Olympics in August.’
      • ‘The ten celebrities will spend two weeks in Australia surviving on rice and water.’
      • ‘She spent a sleepless night passing along the police line searching out scraps of news.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Last week the town council passed a motion to spend a day picking up litter around the town.’
      • ‘April passed, and Charlie spent her sixteenth birthday away from her family and away from Adam.’
      • ‘He spends time passing out pamphlets on the street and reading the Bible in our basement.’
      • ‘The months passed, and I spent them staring directly at Benny during every class.’
      • ‘I spent a laborious ten minutes updating my particulars, then pressed Save.’
      • ‘She now went into nursing full time and spent the next ten years working in England.’
      • ‘Leaving Ireland, aged 22, he spent ten years travelling across Europe, playing all the while.’
      • ‘Plus, managers spend all their time hiring replacements rather than running your business.’
      • ‘As the hours passed they spent their time driving around the small commercial area, looking at all there was to look at.’
      • ‘So the University hired contractors who spent weeks making sure that all systems were clean.’
      • ‘A driver without a resident's pass wanting to spend three hours in Piccadilly car park must find £6 in coins.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘They spend a lot of time with Bradley and I just filled up when they told me what they were doing,’ she said.’
      • ‘I spent decades on benefits as a single parent bringing up children.’
      pass, occupy, fill, take up, while away, use up
      put in, devote, employ
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    3. 1.3 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
      View synonyms


  • An amount of money paid for a particular purpose or over a particular period of time.

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


  • spend a penny

    • informal Urinate (used euphemistically)

      • ‘Spare a thought for the workers who count the seconds as they dash to spend a penny.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Women are demanding much more for their money from city centre toilets as the cost of spending a penny in York doubled.’
      • ‘‘I must just go and spend a penny,’ are his first words.’
      • ‘Users will be asked to pay a pound if they want to spend a penny.’
      • ‘For years visitors have complained about the lack of a suitable place to spend a penny in the tourist resort.’
      • ‘Supt Lacy said those caught spending a penny in public could be hit with maximum fines of £500.’


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