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’
    • ‘On the weekends, whenever I got paid I would spend all my money in the bar.’
    • ‘If you do not want to spend the money on a tiller, you can hire someone or rent a tiller.’
    • ‘It's not just a matter of how much money you spend on a film.’
    • ‘It was forced to spend vast sums of money renovating stores.’
    • ‘People who spend that much money are looking for a return on their investment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I had never spent so much money on anything and I had never owned anything so glamorous.’
    • ‘It's not like me or my friends ever had any real money to spend at the mall.’
    • ‘That boosts corporate profits, which gives businesses the power to spend and hire.’
    • ‘At the same time, credit card companies and hire purchase outfits are queuing up to let us spend money we don't have yet.’
    • ‘They hire their own publicity people and they go out and spend money on their own too.’
    • ‘Corporate America's reluctance to spend and hire has been the biggest drag on this lackluster recovery.’
    • ‘That leaves less money for Americans to spend on domestic goods and services.’
    • ‘A man may spend his money on attending a concert or hiring a lawyer, for example, as well as on food or automobiles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Our hope is that we don't have to actually spend all the money.’
    • ‘New York spends more money, and employs more public workers per capita than most American cities.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘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
    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’
      • ‘So he prepares meticulously, invites everyone he knows, and spends his days passing out flyers.’
      • ‘Plus, managers spend all their time hiring replacements rather than running your business.’
      • ‘So the University hired contractors who spent weeks making sure that all systems were clean.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Last week the town council passed a motion to spend a day picking up litter around the town.’
      • ‘I spent a laborious ten minutes updating my particulars, then pressed Save.’
      • ‘A driver without a resident's pass wanting to spend three hours in Piccadilly car park must find £6 in coins.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The months passed, and I spent them staring directly at Benny during every class.’
      • ‘The ten celebrities will spend two weeks in Australia surviving on rice and water.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I spent decades on benefits as a single parent bringing up children.’
      • ‘Earlier this month he spent ten days in the city which will host this year's Olympics in August.’
      • ‘As the hours passed they spent their time driving around the small commercial area, looking at all there was to look at.’
      • ‘Even though he didn't go before a judge, he had to hire a lawyer and spent a year preparing his case.’
      • ‘Leaving Ireland, aged 22, he spent ten years travelling across Europe, playing all the while.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘Health Boards around the country lowered their advertising spend by up to 50 per cent in recent months in order to trim costs.’
    • ‘Moreover, the average spend by overseas visitors in the county is significantly less than in other regions.’
    • ‘The directories secure seven per cent of the advertising spend in Ireland.’
    • ‘Microsoft group marketing manager Nick McGrath likens the spend to the amount used in launching a new car.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘While some complain of London prices, the average spend is around £30, all in.’
    • ‘This still amounts to an aggregate spend of several millions.’
    • ‘They will also downsize their operations and cut back on both capital and advertising spend.’
    • ‘The Government also spent less per person on health in 2001 than the average spend of 30 countries surveyed in the report.’
    • ‘This has been achieved by increasing customer numbers and their average spend.’
    • ‘Most major campaigns now factor in a spend of between 3 and 5 per cent of their budget on washroom advertising.’
    • ‘In Lancaster county alone, the number of visitors is five million annually and the spends are estimated at $400 million, on average.’
    • ‘That is, the higher the spend on the advertising, the worse the movie is.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The company carefully monitors the effectiveness of its advertising spend, and monitors the sites from which punters travel to place bets.’
    • ‘He said that companies should maintain advertising spends, even in a climate where it may be more difficult to justify them.’
    • ‘By selling wine in such large quantities, the company boosts its average spend per customer.’
    • ‘Advertising spend all but dried up over July and August.’


  • spend a penny

    • informal Urinate (used euphemistically).

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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