Definition of expense in English:


Syllabification: ex·pense
Pronunciation: /ikˈspens


  • 1The cost required for something; the money spent on something: we had ordered suits at great expense the committee does not expect members to be put to any expense
    More example sentences
    • The only new expense incurred would be the cost of walkie-talkies for the official and the technical advisor.
    • The attempt to recover costs had simply incurred further public expense on both sides.
    • They have to do so at their own expense as the cost of living increases.
    cost, price, charge, outlay, fee, tariff, levy, payment
    informal, humorous damage
  • 1.1 (expenses) The costs incurred in the performance of one’s job or a specific task, especially one undertaken for another person: his hotel and travel expenses
    More example sentences
    • Anything above that is insurance premium tax, office costs, marketing expenses and commission for sellers.
    • How is it logical to spend the same amount in transport expenses as it would cost to keep the factory open?
    • They finally had enough revenues to cover their fixed costs and marketing expenses.
  • 1.2A thing on which one is required to spend money: tolls are a daily expense
    More example sentences
    • There was a subsidy to assist farmers, but with the rising cost of electricity this expense was still a major burden.
    • Any normal expense incurred in the day-to-day operations of the company falls under this category.
    overhead, costs, outlay, expenditure(s), charges, bills, payment(s); incidentals


[with object] (usually be expensed) Back to top  
  • Offset (an item of expenditure) as an expense against taxable income.
    More example sentences
    • Anecdotal evidence suggests a growing number of Old Economy companies are moving away from stock options to restricted stock, which must be expensed on the income statement.
    • They must be expensed through the income statement, because the future benefits of such investments are so uncertain.
    • Compensation cost arising from the issuance of stock options may be expensed or capitalized in the same way as cash compensation.


at someone's expense

Paid for by someone: the document was printed at the taxpayer’s expense
More example sentences
  • A private company, subsidised by the taxpayer, is given a license to print money at our expense.
  • These privileged persons arrive with families and hangers-on in helicopters, which land them at a helipad near the Park entrance, all at the taxpayer's expense.
  • Politicians last night dismissed suggestions that a new service giving MPs special access to a London medical centre was queue-jumping at the taxpayer's expense.
With someone as the victim, especially of a joke: my friends all had a good laugh at my expense
More example sentences
  • Dan had made a joke at my expense and everyone was laughing.
  • He seemed to be laughing himself silly at some of the jokes at his expense, but it may be that he's a good enough actor to fake enjoyment.
  • He used the opportunity to joke at the city 's expense.

at the expense of

So as to cause harm to or neglect of: the pursuit of profit at the expense of the environment language courses that emphasize communication skills at the expense of literature
More example sentences
  • Discouraging access seems to provide minimal benefits at the expense of very poor public relations.
  • Why do we spend so much on things that give us tiny increases in comfort at the expense of so many other people?
  • The strategy may have been to go for turnover growth at the expense of profit margins.
sacrifice, cost, loss


late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French, alteration of Old French espense, from late Latin expensa (pecunia) '(money) spent', from Latin expendere 'pay out' (see expend).

More definitions of expense

Definition of expense in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day mage
Pronunciation: meɪdʒ
a magician or learned person