Definition of cost in English:

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Pronunciation: /kɒst/

verb (past and past participle cost)

[with object]
1(Of an object or action) require the payment of (a specified sum of money) before it can be acquired or done: each issue of the magazine costs £1 [with two objects]: the journey will cost her £25
More example sentences
  • He suggested that the quality of the work was better than much of what was done in the private sector today costing large sums of money.
  • She must dial a long distance number, which can cost great sums of money for extended Internet use.
  • Some of these benefits cost significant sums of money to provide.
be priced at, sell for, be valued at, fetch, come to, amount to, be
informal set someone back, go for
British informal knock someone back
1.1Cause the loss or unpleasant consequence of: [with two objects]: driving at more than double the speed limit cost the woman her driving licence
More example sentences
  • The midweek loss cost the Celts second place in the table.
  • In both away matches this season, Livi have sat in and invited attack, which duly cost them goals.
  • It was the Hokies' only loss, and it cost them another shot at a national title.
cause the loss of, cause the sacrifice of, lead to the end of;
destroy, result in harm to, result in damage to, harm, hurt, injure, damage
1.2 informal Be expensive for (someone): if you want to own an island, it’ll cost you
More example sentences
  • He did not want to consider the public tendencies then and he did the same thing now, two years afterwards, which cost him.
  • There are too many things that cost and not enough stuff that doesn't cost you.
  • I will never regret my decision to go public, even though it has cost me greatly in many ways.
2 (past and past participle costed) Estimate the price of: it is their job to plan and cost a media schedule for the campaign
More example sentences
  • Has anyone costed the price of a unit of electricity?
  • It's not costed into the price of our t-shirts.
  • It has to be confiscation, not purchase, as the ‘retrieval’ was not costed, or any price quoted.
value, price, put a price on, put a value on, put a figure on, estimate the cost of, estimate the price of, evaluate


1An amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something: we are able to cover the cost of the event health-care costs [mass noun]: the tunnel has been built at no cost to the state
More example sentences
  • She defended her decision to ask the students for the amount to cover the cost of repair.
  • If this amount cannot cover the cost of the claim, then the balance is met out of the public purse.
  • In many regions, the amount of cash payments for travel did not cover the cost of a monthly pass.
price, asking price, market price, selling price, fee, tariff, fare, toll, levy, charge, hire charge, rental;
value, face value, valuation, quotation, rate, worth
informal, humorous damage
1.1The effort, loss, or sacrifice necessary to achieve or obtain something: the government succeeded in diverting resources away from consumption at considerable cost to its political popularity
More example sentences
  • Sometimes, early success is achieved at the cost of a child's childhood.
  • The use of quality criteria makes comparison of trials easier to understand, but at the cost of inevitable loss of accuracy.
  • Such a channel bonanza, however, may come at the cost of sacrificing channel capacity.
penalty, sacrifice, loss;
expense, toll, price;
suffering, harm, hurt, injury, damage, detriment, deprivation;
disadvantage, downside, drawback, snag, undesirable consequences, adverse effects;
British  disbenefit
1.2 (costs (also court costs) ) Legal expenses, especially those allowed in favour of the winning party or against the losing party in a suit: costs may be awarded to a successful private prosecutor out of central funds
More example sentences
  • These can include requirements such as security for costs from foreign plaintiffs, or the denial of legal aid.
  • The adjudication clause permits the Adjudicator to award costs to the winning party.
  • Accordingly, no profit costs should be allowed to the appellants for work done by their partnership.
expenses, outgoings, disbursements, overheads, running costs, operating costs, fixed costs;
expenditure, spending, outlay, money spent, payments



at all costs (or at any cost)

Regardless of the price to be paid or the effort needed: he was anxious to avoid war at all costs
More example sentences
  • Investors bailed out, fearing it had decided to take control of a US business at any cost in an effort to take its brand across the Atlantic.
  • It seems that their agenda is growth at any cost regardless of the wishes of the people.
  • Neutrality is a position of principle which should not be bartered at any cost or for any price.

at cost

At cost price; without profit to the seller.
Example sentences
  • But for most retailers who essentially sell diapers at cost, the extra effort is more daunting - with no significant payoff.
  • The remaining property assets are still included in the balance sheet at cost or at existing use valuations that are more than a decade old.
  • The two units sell inventory back and forth at cost.

cost an arm and a leg

see arm1.

cost someone dear (or dearly)

Involve someone in a serious loss or a heavy penalty: they were really bad mistakes on my part and they cost us dear
More example sentences
  • On paper they are a formidable outfit but poor decision making and a concession of penalties are costing them dearly.
  • These extended redemption penalties can cost you dearly in the long run.
  • His two losses in a row in the fifth and sixth rounds cost him dearly.

to someone's cost

With loss or disadvantage to someone: without programmes to play on it, the cleverest machine is useless—as some hardware manufacturers already know to their cost
More example sentences
  • He had already found, to his cost, that jumping in feet first was a disastrous idea.
  • It's goals not chances that win matches - as they found out to their cost in the 1-0 loss.
  • That would be a major loss, as they learned to their cost yesterday.


Middle English: from Old French coust (noun), couster (verb), based on Latin constare 'stand firm, stand at a price'.

  • This is from Old French couster, based on Latin constare ‘stand firm, stand at a price’.

Words that rhyme with cost

accost, frost, lost, Prost, riposte

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cost

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