Definition of expense in English:

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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);


[with object] (usually be expensed)
Offset (an item of expenditure) as an expense against taxable income.
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.
1.1With 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).

  • Expense goes back to Latin expendere ‘pay out’, and shares a root with Old English spend.

Words that rhyme with expense

cense, commence, common sense, condense, dense, dispense, fence, hence, Hortense, immense, offence (US offense), pence, prepense, pretence (US pretense), sense, spence, suspense, tense, thence, whence

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ex·pense

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