There are 2 main definitions of economy in English:

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economy 1

Pronunciation: /əˈkänəmē/

noun (plural economies)

1The wealth and resources of a country or region, especially in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services.
Example sentences
  • The slowing global economy has weakened demand for Japan's high-technology exports, causing manufacturers to cut production and workers.
  • The global capitalist economy remains the most important transnational force in the world today.
  • Economically, coffee production came to dominate as Colombian insertion into the world market economy depended on this export commodity.
wealth, (financial) resources;
financial system, financial management
1.1A particular system or stage of an economy: a free-market economy the less-developed economies
More example sentences
  • As always, it's a much neater and efficient system than a centralized economy.
  • Overnight, it could become the delivery system of the digital economy.
  • It was an arrangement that covered most people, but with Deng Xiaoping's move to a market economy, the system was doomed.
2Careful management of available resources: even heat distribution and fuel economy
More example sentences
  • As well as excellent fuel economy it also allows the company driver to avoid the three per cent benefit in kind diesel surcharge.
  • In the auto-shift mode the system chooses the most logical gear for engine speed and fuel economy at any time.
  • GM estimates that direct injection can improve gas engine fuel economy by 10 percent.
2.1Sparing or careful use of something: economy of words
More example sentences
  • Skill, in any sport, is the ability of the player to execute a technique with economy of effort.
  • Despite his miss, Sheringham was still one of the better players in claret and blue, achieved, as always, with great economy of effort.
  • What marks out Benaud's commentary is not just his absolute economy of words, but his unerring eye for a story.
2.2 (usually economies) A financial saving: there were many economies to be made by giving up our offices in Manhattan
2.3 (also economy class) The cheapest class of air or rail travel: we flew economy
More example sentences
  • Those travelling in the executive class will have to opt for any one of the three items being provided in the first class, while those travelling in the economy class will have an option of only two items.
  • Although he only has an economy class ticket he planks himself down in First Class and, despite the efforts of the steward, refuses to move.
  • Another year and she would move from flying economy class to business class.


1(Of a product) offering the best value for the money: [in combination]: an economy pack
1.1Designed to be economical to use: an economy car



economy of scale

A proportionate saving in costs gained by an increased level of production.
Example sentences
  • They don't benefit from economies of scale because their costs increase as they grow.
  • It just needs to take market share, gain economies of scale, and grow profitably.
  • Where there were few opportunities for economies of scale in production, brands had little role to play.

economy of scope

A proportionate saving gained by producing two or more distinct goods, when the cost of doing so is less than that of producing each separately.
Example sentences
  • They interpret the negative results for bidders to mean that any benefits from economies of scope in the acquisitions are totally reflected in the offering prices banks paid to target firms.
  • To the extent that a pair of business lines shares economies of scope, standard economic theory suggests that they will be combined.
  • On the other hand, the Samsung network has a long way to go in order to create a significant advantage deriving from the economies of scope expected from such networking.


Late 15th century (in the sense 'management of material resources'): from French économie, or via Latin from Greek oikonomia 'household management', based on oikos 'house' + nemein 'manage'. Current senses date from the 17th century.

  • Like ecology, economy and economical come from Greek oikos ‘house’, and in the 15th century they were spelled oikonomy and oikonomical. Economy was then ‘the art or science of managing a household’ and ‘the way in which household finances are managed’. The sense expanded in the 17th century to cover the management of a country's finances. Being economical with the truth is a euphemism for lying or deliberately withholding information. Mark Twain commented in Following the Equator (1897), ‘Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.’ The phrase itself did not gain widespread popularity until its use in 1986 during a government attempt to prevent the publication of Spycatcher, a book by a former MI5 officer, Peter Wright. Giving evidence at the trial, the head of the British Civil Service reportedly said of a letter: ‘It contains a misleading impression, not a lie. It was economical with the truth.’

Words that rhyme with economy

agronomy, astronomy, autonomy, bonhomie, Deuteronomy, gastronomy, heteronomy, metonymy, physiognomy, taxonomy

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: e·con·o·my

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There are 2 main definitions of economy in English:

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Economy 7 2

Entry from British & World English dictionary



An energy tariff which provides low-cost night-time electricity during a specified seven-hour period.


1970s; earliest use found in The Times.

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