Definition of spend in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Pay out (money) in buying or hiring goods or services.

    ‘the firm has spent $100,000 on hardware and software’
    • ‘New York spends more money, and employs more public workers per capita than most American cities.’
    • ‘I'd spend whatever money I had to hire investigators to come down, to follow people, to look at every lead they have.’
    • ‘People who spend that much money are looking for a return on their investment.’
    • ‘It's not just a matter of how much money you spend on a film.’
    • ‘That leaves less money for Americans to spend on domestic goods and services.’
    • ‘They hire their own publicity people and they go out and spend money on their own too.’
    • ‘It was forced to spend vast sums of money renovating stores.’
    • ‘So adults had more money to spend on goods and services and invest in their families' education.’
    • ‘At the same time, credit card companies and hire purchase outfits are queuing up to let us spend money we don't have yet.’
    • ‘I had never spent so much money on anything and I had never owned anything so glamorous.’
    • ‘Our hope is that we don't have to actually spend all the money.’
    • ‘He grumbles when his wife spends too much money.’
    • ‘On the weekends, whenever I got paid I would spend all my money in the bar.’
    • ‘That boosts corporate profits, which gives businesses the power to spend and hire.’
    • ‘Being a board member of our local animal shelter, I know that much of the money we spend on vet services goes to vaccinations.’
    • ‘It's not like me or my friends ever had any real money to spend at the mall.’
    • ‘Corporate America's reluctance to spend and hire has been the biggest drag on this lackluster recovery.’
    • ‘If you do not want to spend the money on a tiller, you can hire someone or rent a tiller.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘We spent too much money on people that hate us and loathe us and want us out of their country.’
      • ‘By now there should be nobody who doesn't agree that how much money we spend per pupil makes a difference.’
      pay out, lay out, expend, disburse
      View synonyms
    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’
      • ‘As the hours passed they spent their time driving around the small commercial area, looking at all there was to look at.’
      • ‘Earlier this month he spent ten days in the city which will host this year's Olympics in August.’
      • ‘Last week the town council passed a motion to spend a day picking up litter around the town.’
      • ‘Plus, managers spend all their time hiring replacements rather than running your business.’
      • ‘Here, she spent the next ten years of her life, brought up in an atmosphere of love and affection.’
      • ‘He spends time passing out pamphlets on the street and reading the Bible in our basement.’
      • ‘Even though he didn't go before a judge, he had to hire a lawyer and spent a year preparing his case.’
      • ‘The months passed, and I spent them staring directly at Benny during every class.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A driver without a resident's pass wanting to spend three hours in Piccadilly car park must find £6 in coins.’
      • ‘I spent decades on benefits as a single parent bringing up children.’
      • ‘‘They spend a lot of time with Bradley and I just filled up when they told me what they were doing,’ she said.’
      • ‘She spent a sleepless night passing along the police line searching out scraps of news.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She now went into nursing full time and spent the next ten years working in England.’
      • ‘April passed, and Charlie spent her sixteenth birthday away from her family and away from Adam.’
      • ‘Leaving Ireland, aged 22, he spent ten years travelling across Europe, playing all the while.’
      • ‘So he prepares meticulously, invites everyone he knows, and spends his days passing out flyers.’
      • ‘So the University hired contractors who spent weeks making sure that all systems were clean.’
      pass, occupy, fill, take up, while away, use up
      put in, devote, employ
      View synonyms
    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’
      • ‘She put her hands on her hips and watched as the can spent itself.’
      • ‘The last drops of the rainfall spattered heavily against the cobblestones as the storm spent itself and shook itself off.’
      • ‘The lightning spent itself and the coach fell to the ground unconscious.’
      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’
    • ‘Most major campaigns now factor in a spend of between 3 and 5 per cent of their budget on washroom advertising.’
    • ‘Moreover, the average spend by overseas visitors in the county is significantly less than in other regions.’
    • ‘Most of its advertising spend goes to local newspapers, much of it in Britain, and to local radio stations.’
    • ‘The company carefully monitors the effectiveness of its advertising spend, and monitors the sites from which punters travel to place bets.’
    • ‘Microsoft group marketing manager Nick McGrath likens the spend to the amount used in launching a new car.’
    • ‘The total spend on both the games and the advertising for the Third Place campaign is around €3 million.’
    • ‘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 Government also spent less per person on health in 2001 than the average spend of 30 countries surveyed in the report.’
    • ‘This still amounts to an aggregate spend of several millions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said that companies should maintain advertising spends, even in a climate where it may be more difficult to justify them.’
    • ‘The directories secure seven per cent of the advertising spend in Ireland.’
    • ‘Health Boards around the country lowered their advertising spend by up to 50 per cent in recent months in order to trim costs.’
    • ‘By selling wine in such large quantities, the company boosts its average spend per customer.’
    • ‘While some complain of London prices, the average spend is around £30, all in.’
    • ‘That is, the higher the spend on the advertising, the worse the movie is.’


  • spend a penny

    • informal Urinate (used euphemistically).

      • ‘Users will be asked to pay a pound if they want to spend a penny.’
      • ‘Supt Lacy said those caught spending a penny in public could be hit with maximum fines of £500.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For years visitors have complained about the lack of a suitable place to spend a penny in the tourist resort.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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