[ ik-spen-siv ]
/ ɪkˈspɛn sɪv /


entailing great expense; very high-priced; costly: an expensive party.



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Origin of expensive

First recorded in 1620–30; expense + -ive

SYNONYMS FOR expensive

Expensive, costly, dear, high-priced apply to something that is high in price. Expensive is applied to whatever entails considerable expense; it suggests a price more than the average person would normally be able to pay or a price paid only for something special: an expensive automobile. Costly implies that the price is a large sum, usually because of the fineness, preciousness, etc., of the object: a costly jewel. Dear is commonly applied in England to something that is selling beyond its usual or just price. In the U.S., high-priced is the usual equivalent.


ex·pen·sive·ly, adverbex·pen·sive·ness, nounqua·si-ex·pen·sive, adjectivequa·si-ex·pen·sive·ly, adverb


expansive expensive (see synonym study at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does expensive mean?

Expensive means something is high priced or costs a lot of money.

Expensive is most often applied to items with very high prices, such as luxury cars. But it can also be used to describe things whose price or cost is simply high compared to others.

Example: I like it, but it’s just too expensive. Do you have any lower-priced models?

Where does expensive come from?

The first records of expensive come from the 1620s. It is the adjective form of the older noun expense, which means “cost” or “something that needs to be paid for.” Expense derives from the Latin verb expendere, meaning “to expend” (“to pay out or spend”). The suffix -ive makes expensive an adjective.

Most often, things are described as expensive when they always have a high price, like mansions and designer dresses, or a high cost, like weddings. Of course, what one person considers expensive may be inexpensive to another person. It depends on how much a person is willing to spend and how much money they have. Sometimes, expensive means that the price or cost of something seems high compared to similar items. For example, $5 might not be a high price in general, but it would be considered pretty expensive for a single apple. Such a thing would often be called overpriced.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to expensive?

  • expensively (adverb)
  • expensiveness (noun)

What are some synonyms for expensive?

What are some words that share a root or word element with expensive


What are some words that often get used in discussing expensive?


What are some words expensive may be commonly confused with?

How is expensive used in real life?

Expensive is a relative term, usually depending on how much money someone has. But it is always used in relation to how much something costs.



Try using expensive!

Which of the following things is most likely to be described as expensive?

A. gumball
B. generic shampoo
C. luxury car
D. half-price socks

Example sentences from the Web for expensive

British Dictionary definitions for expensive

/ (ɪkˈspɛnsɪv) /


high-priced; costly; dear

Derived forms of expensive

expensively, adverbexpensiveness, noun
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