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[kawst-lee, kost-] /ˈkɔst li, ˈkɒst-/
adjective, costlier, costliest.
costing much; expensive; high in price:
a costly emerald bracelet; costly medical care.
resulting in great expense:
The upkeep of such a large house is costly.
resulting in great detriment:
It was a costly mistake because no one ever trusted him again.
of great value; very valuable; sumptuous.
lavish; extravagant.
Origin of costly
1350-1400; Middle English costli. See cost, -ly
Related forms
costliness, noun
overcostliness, noun
overcostly, adjective
uncostly, adjective
1. dear, high-priced. See expensive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for costly
  • City trips are often expensive because of costly hotel fees.
  • Energy and the technology to desalinate water are both expensive, and this means that desalinating water can be pretty costly.
  • These plates and spines protect the fish from predators, but they are costly to produce and maintain.
  • The costly transition to a new banana took more than a decade.
  • When the public school course was finally finished, they wanted more costly dresses, more costly hats and shoes.
  • Then he sat down on a costly seat, and began to eat the sweet rice porridge from a golden bowl.
  • Sandor believes that one way to reduce pollution is to make it so costly to polluters that they stop.
  • Health insurance is limited in what it covers and far from universal, so getting sick can be a costly proposition.
  • These mistakes have been undeniably costly, but they're not the whole story.
  • Most veterinarians make around sixty thousand a year, and veterinary training can be as costly and rigorous as medical training.
British Dictionary definitions for costly


adjective -lier, -liest
of great price or value; expensive
entailing great loss or sacrifice: a costly victory
splendid; lavish
Derived Forms
costliness, 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
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Word Origin and History for costly

late 14c., from cost + -ly (1). Earlier formation with the same sense were costful (mid-13c.), costious (mid-14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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