American English

Definition of cost noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] the amount of money that you need in order to buy, make, or do something the high/low cost of housing A new computer system has been installed at a cost of$150,000. The plan had to be abandoned on grounds of cost. We did not even make enough money to cover the cost of the food. Consumers will have to bear the full cost of these pay increases. The total cost to you (= the amount you have to pay) is $3,000. Thesauruspricecost value expense worthThese words all refer to the amount of money that you have to pay for something.price the amount of money that you have to pay for an item or a service:house prices These shoes don't have a price on them. I can't afford it at that price.cost the amount of money that you need in order to buy, make, or do something:A new computer system has been installed at a cost of $180,000.value how much something is worth in money or other goods for which it can be exchanged:Sports cars tend to hold their value well. Value can also mean how much something is worth compared with its price:This restaurant is an excellent value (= is worth the money it costs).price, cost, or value?The price is what someone asks you to pay for an item or service:to ask/charge a high price to ask/charge a high cost/value. Obtaining or achieving something may have a cost; the value of something is how much other people would be willing to pay for it:house prices the cost of changing jobs The house now has a market value of one million dollars.expense the money that you spend on something; something that makes you spend money:The garden was expanded at great expense. Owning a car is a major expense.worth the financial value of someone or something:He has a personal net worth of $10 million. Worth is more often used to mean the practical or moral value of something.Patterns the high price/cost/value the real/true price/cost/value/worth to put/set a price/value >on>something to increase/reduce the price/cost/value/expense to raise/double/lower the price/cost/value to cut the price/cost
  2. 2costs [plural] the total amount of money that needs to be spent by a business The use of cheap labor helped to keep costs down. to cut/reduce costs running/operating/labor costs We have had to raise our prices because of rising costs. Opinion was divided on the potential costs and benefits of the plan. Topic CollocationsBusinessrunning a business buy/acquire/own/sell a company/firm/franchise set up/establish/start/start up/launch a business/company run/operate a business/company/franchise head/run a firm/department/team make/secure/win/lose/block a deal expand/grow/build the business boost/increase investment/spending/sales/turnover/earnings/exports/trade increase/expand production/output/sales boost/maximize production/productivity/efficiency/income/revenue/profit/profitability achieve/maintain/sustain growth/profitability cut/reduce/bring down/lower/slash costs/prices announce/impose/make cuts/cutbackssales and marketing break into/enter/capture/dominate a market capture/gain/grab/take/win/boost/lose market share identify/find/build/create a market for something start/launch an advertising/a marketing campaign develop/launch/promote a product/Web site estimate/assess/create/generate demand for your product attract/get/retain/keep/help customers/clients drive/generate/boost/increase demand/sales beat/keep ahead of/out-think/outperform/ (informal) stymie the competition meet/reach/exceed/miss sales targetsfinance draw up/set/present/propose/agree on/approve a budget keep to/balance/cut/reduce/slash the budget be/come in below/under/over/within budget generate income/revenue/profit(s)/funds/business fund/finance a campaign/a venture/an expansion/spending/a deficit provide/raise/allocate capital/funds attract/encourage investment/investors recover/recoup costs/losses/an investment/an outlay get/obtain/offer somebody/grant somebody credit/a loan apply for/raise/secure/arrange/provide financingfailure lose business/trade/customers/sales/revenue accumulate/accrue/incur/run up debts suffer/sustain enormous/heavy/serious losses face cuts/a deficit/bankruptcy/a shortfall declare/file for/enter/avoid/escape bankruptcy liquidate a company/a business/assets survive/weather a recession/downturn propose/seek/block/oppose a merger launch/make/accept/contest/defeat a takeover bid
  3. 3[uncountable, singular] the effort, loss, or damage that is involved in order to do or achieve something the terrible cost of the war in death and suffering the environmental cost of nuclear power She saved him from the fire but at the cost of her own life (= she died). He worked non-stop for three months,at considerable cost to his health. I felt a need to please people, whatever the cost in time and energy.
  4. 4costs (also court costs) [plural] the sum of money that someone is ordered to pay for lawyers, etc. in a legal case He was ordered to pay $2,000 costs.
  5. Thesauruscostsspending expenditure expenses overhead (costs) outlayThese are all words for money spent by a government, an organization, or a person.costs the total amount of money that needs to be spent by a business:labor/production costs rising costsspending the amount of money that is spent, especially by a government or an organization:public spending The governor promised more spending on public health programs.expenditure (somewhat formal) an amount of money spent by a government, an organization, or a person:expenditure on educationexpenses money that has to be spent by a person or an organization; money that you spend while you are working, that your employer will pay back to you later:legal expenses travel expensesoverhead (costs) the regular costs of running a business or organization, such as rent, electricity, and wages:High overhead means small profit margins.outlay the money that you have to spend in order to start a new business or project, or in order to save yourself money or time later:The best equipment is costly but is well worth the outlay.Patterns spending/expenditure/outlay on something high/low costs/spending/expenditure/expenses/overhead (costs) total costs/spending/expenditure/expenses/overhead (costs)/outlay capital costs/spending/expenditure/expenses/outlay household costs/spending/expenditure/expenses government/public/education/health costs/spending/expenditure to increase/reduce/bring down costs/spending/expenditure/expenses/overhead (costs)/the outlayIdioms
    at all costs
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    whatever is needed to achieve something You must stop the media from finding out at all costs.
    at any cost
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    under any circumstances He is determined to win at any cost.
    for only the amount of money that is needed to make or get something, without any profit being added on goods sold at cost
    count the cost (of something)
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    to feel the bad effects of a mistake, an accident, etc. The town is now counting the cost of its failure to provide adequate flood protection.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: cost