• synonyms


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

First recorded in 1620–30; expense + -ive
Related formsex·pen·sive·ly, adverbex·pen·sive·ness, nounqua·si-ex·pen·sive, adjectivequa·si-ex·pen·sive·ly, adverb
Can be confusedexpansive expensive (see synonym study at the current entry)


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.


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

Examples from the Web for expensively

Historical Examples

  • You saw her in and out of the shops of the district, expensively dressed.


    Edna Ferber

  • She was expensively attired, her garments rustling richly when she moved.

    A Sheaf of Corn

    Mary E. Mann

  • He could live economically or expensively, according to his preference.

    The Land of the Kangaroo

    Thomas Wallace Knox

  • She had been expensively produced and there would be a good deal more of her to come.

  • They can only govern after absolute conquest, and then expensively.

British Dictionary definitions for expensively


  1. high-priced; costly; dear
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Derived Formsexpensively, 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

Word Origin and History for expensively



1620s, "given to profuse expenditure," from expense (n.) + -ive. Meaning "costly" is from 1630s. Earlier was expenseful (c.1600). Expenseless was in use mid-17c.-18c., but there seems nothing now to which it applies, and the dictionaries label it "obsolete."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper