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  1. cost or charge: the expense of a good meal.
  2. a cause or occasion of spending: A car can be a great expense.
  3. the act of expending; expenditure.
  4. expenses,
    1. charges incurred during a business assignment or trip.
    2. money paid as reimbursement for such charges: to receive a salary and expenses.
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verb (used with object), ex·pensed, ex·pens·ing.
  1. to charge or write off as an expense.
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verb (used without object), ex·pensed, ex·pens·ing.
  1. to be expensed.
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  1. at the expense of, at the sacrifice of; to the detriment of: quantity at the expense of quality.
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Origin of expense

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin expēnsa, noun use of feminine of expēnsus, past participle of expendere to expend
Related formsex·pense·less, adjectivepre·ex·pense, noun

Synonyms for expense

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for expense

loan, rate, insurance, sum, investment, charge, risk, price, liability, expenditure, obligation, debt, tariff, mortgage, loss, outlay, consumption, budget, value, amount

Examples from the Web for expense

Contemporary Examples of expense

Historical Examples of expense

British Dictionary definitions for expense


  1. a particular payment of money; expenditure
  2. money needed for individual purchases; cost; charge
  3. (plural) incidental money spent in the performance of a job, commission, etc, usually reimbursed by an employer or allowable against tax
  4. something requiring money for its purchase or upkeepthe car was more of an expense than he had expected
  5. at the expense of to the detriment ofhe succeeded at the expense of his health
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  1. (tr) US and Canadian to treat as an expense for book-keeping or tax purposes
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Word Origin for expense

C14: from Late Latin expēnsa, from Latin expēnsus weighed out; see expend
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for expense


late 14c., from Anglo-French expense, Old French espense "money provided for expenses," from Late Latin expensa "disbursement, outlay, expense," noun use of neuter plural past participle of Latin expendere "to weigh out money, to pay down" (see expend).

Latin spensa also yielded Medieval Latin spe(n)sa, whose sense specialized to "outlay for provisions," then "provisions, food," which was borrowed into Old High German as spisa and is the root of German Speise "food," now mostly meaning prepared food, and speisen "to eat."

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1909, from expense (n.). Related: Expensed; expensing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with expense


see at the expense of; go to the trouble (expense); money (expense) is no object.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.