Meaning of “cost” in the English Dictionary

"cost" in English

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uk /kɒst/ us /kɑːst/

cost noun (MONEY SPENT)

A2 [ U ] the amount of money needed to buy, do, or make something:

When you buy a new computer, you usually get software included at no extra cost (= for no additional money).
In most families, two salaries are essential to cover the cost of (= pay for) raising a family.
The supermarket chain announced that it was cutting the cost (= reducing the price) of all its fresh and frozen meat.
It's difficult for most people to deal with the rising cost of (= increasing price of) healthcare.
I was able to buy the damaged goods at cost (= for only the amount of money needed to produce or get the goods, without any extra money added for profit).
costs [ plural ]

the amount of money needed for a business or to do a particular job:

We need to cut our advertising costs.
The estimated costs of the building project are well over £1 million.

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B2 [ S or U ] something that is given, needed, or lost in order to get a particular thing:

We were going to paint the house ourselves, but when we considered the cost in time and effort, we decided to get a painter to do it for us.
The driver managed not to hit the child who ran in front of his car, but only at the cost of injuring himself.
She has finally got the job she wanted, but at great personal cost (= she has had to give up other things that were important to her).
UK It's not worth getting into an argument with Paula, as I learned to my cost (= from my unpleasant experience of having done so).

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costverb [ T ]

uk /kɒst/ us /kɑːst/

cost verb [ T ] (MONEY)

A2 cost, cost If something costs an amount of money, you must pay that amount to buy or do it:

"How much does this book cost?" "It costs £25."
It costs a lot to buy a house in this part of Sydney.
[ + two objects ] The trip will cost you $1,000.

costed, costed to calculate the future cost of something:

My boss asked me to cost the materials for the new fence and gate.
Has your plan been properly costed (out)?

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cost verb [ T ] (DESTROY)

B2 cost, cost to cause someone to lose or destroy something valuable:

Drinking and driving costs lives (= can cause accidents in which people die).
[ + two objects ] His affairs cost him his marriage (= his marriage ended because of them).

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(Definition of “cost” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"cost" in American English

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us /kɔst, kɑst/

cost noun (MONEY)

[ C/U ] the amount of money needed to buy, do, or make something, or an amount spent for something:

[ C ] Education costs continue to rise.
[ U ] Most computers come with software included at no extra cost.
[ U ] The area has both high-cost and low-cost housing.

[ C/U ] law Costs is the money given to a person who wins a legal case to pay for the cost of taking the matter to a law court.


[ U ] that which is given, needed, or lost in order to obtain something:

costverb [ T ]

us /kɔst/ past tense and past participle cost

cost verb [ T ] (PAY MONEY)

to need you to pay a particular amount of money in order for you to buy or do something:

The trip will cost (you) $1000.
It costs a lot to buy a house these days.

cost verb [ T ] (GIVE OR LOSE SOMETHING)

to be forced to give or lose something in order to obtain something:

If you give him a chance to hit the ball, it could cost you the ballgame.

(Definition of “cost” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"cost" in Business English

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uk /kɒst/ us

[ C or U ] money that has to be spent in order to buy, do, or make something:

Some people are reluctant to seek the help of a financial adviser because of the cost.
the cost of (doing) sth What's the cost of an international call?
cut/lower/reduce the cost If states shared the risk of catastrophic events, this would lower the cost for policyholders.
increase/raise/push up the cost New standards will increase the cost of making and selling diesel vehicles.
the cost increases/rises/goes up Raw material costs have risen faster than expected.
the cost goes down/drops/falls The cost of farm subsidies is expected to fall thanks to large exports and healthy prices.
an increase/rise in the cost of sth an increase in the cost of goods and services
travel/childcare/healthcare costs All travel costs will be reimbursed by your employer.
legal/medical/insurance costs Republican candidates offered tax credits to lower health insurance costs.
high/rising/spiralling cost(s) Spiralling fuel costs have hit motorists hard.
additional/average/extra cost The average cost of insuring a family car in 2011 was £360.
estimated/projected cost Total projected cost is $2.5 billion.
cover/pay/meet the cost A one-off disposal fee covers the cost of collection and recycling
at a cost of $4 billion/£150,000, etc. plans to build ten new power stations at a cost of £2 billion each
the cost to sb "What will the cost to taxpayers be?" is the question on everyone's lips.
Strategic alliances can provide growth at a fraction of the cost of going it alone.
Apartments in Brooklyn often sell at half the cost of apartments in Manhattan.
costs [ plural ]

money that a company or organization has to spend regularly:

Company legislation deals with key issues such as costs, advertising, and promotional spend.
the costs of (doing) sth Small companies find it hard to bear the costs of promotion and distribution.
cut/reduce/rein in costs There was a drive to cut costs by using fewer suppliers.
high/rising/escalating costs Escalating costs have adversely affected profits.
increase/rise in costs Technological advances have sparked most of the rise in costs, industry analysts claimed.
reduction in costs A reduction in costs should help boost end-of-year figures.
energy/fuel costs
additional/actual/extra costs The OFT said yesterday that credit card providers could only charge for the actual costs of processing late payments.
incur costs Adequate compensation should be provided for any costs incurred.
cover/recover/recoup costs Because private farmers can't recoup their costs, they are cutting production.
costs rise/go up/increase Staff costs have risen by 20% in the past two years.
costs come/go down Alternative energy sources will become more widely used as costs come down.

[ U ] ACCOUNTING the amount of money that is spent to produce goods or services, before any profit is added for the manufacturer or producer:

Mass-market retailers often sell items such as bread and milk at cost to pull in customers.
Supermarkets were accused of encouraging irresponsible drinking by selling beer and cider at below cost.
See also

[ C ] ACCOUNTING an amount of money that a company has to pay and that appears in its accounts:

The amount paid for the lease should be entered as a cost in the profit and loss account.
The depreciation of the value of equipment is treated as a cost.

[ S or U ] something that is given, needed or lost in order to get a particular thing:

cost to sb/sth We will help you run your business with less cost to the environment.
at a cost to sth She continued in the job, but at a great cost to her health.
cost in sth They felt that continuing with the project was not worth the cost in time and effort.
considerable/enormous/great cost

costverb [ T ]

uk /kɒst/ us

cost, cost if something costs a particular amount of money, you have to pay that amount in order to buy or have it:

cost $1 million/£500,000, etc. Calls cost 60 cents per minute.
cost sb $1 million/£500,00, etc. Deregulation allowed the company to fix electricity prices, costing consumers billions of dollars.
cost more/less than Stamp duty is up to 3% on properties costing more than £250,000.
cost about/around/up to luxury apartments costing up to £900,000 each
be expected/estimated to cost The project, which was originally expected to cost $1 billion, is now estimated at $1.8 billion
cost as little/much as Hundreds of items, some costing as little as $1, are for sale.

if something costs you your job, an opportunity, etc. it prevents you from keeping or having it:

The airline folded, costing 3.000 jobs.
cost sb sth Problems with our suppliers could cost us the opportunity to grow our business.

costed ACCOUNTING to calculate the price of something or to decide how much it will cost:

Has the project been costed yet?
cost sth at The new rail line was costed at £150 billion.
cost (sb) a fortune/a bomb/the earth informal

to be very expensive:

The court case will cost the company a fortune.

(Definition of “cost” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)