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[ik-spens] /ɪkˈspɛns/
cost or charge:
the expense of a good meal.
a cause or occasion of spending:
A car can be a great expense.
the act of expending; expenditure.
  1. charges incurred during a business assignment or trip.
  2. money paid as reimbursement for such charges:
    to receive a salary and expenses.
verb (used with object), expensed, expensing.
to charge or write off as an expense.
verb (used without object), expensed, expensing.
to be expensed.
at the expense of, at the sacrifice of; to the detriment of:
quantity at the expense of quality.
Origin of expense
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin expēnsa, noun use of feminine of expēnsus, past participle of expendere to expend
Related forms
expenseless, adjective
preexpense, noun
1. outlay, expenditure. See price. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for expense
  • Calculate the expense on a cost per use basis, and suddenly the investment doesn't seem extravagant at all.
  • The extra expense of designing buildings to absorb seismic shocks seems cost-effective, experts say.
  • Solar powered gadgets may cost more than their traditional electric counterparts, but future energy savings offset that expense.
  • It is part of the expense of running a university department.
  • But they have suppressed almost all public discussion about the choices they made and the expense involved.
  • The renewable energy effort comes under criticism because of its expense.
  • Neither you, nor anyone else has presented sufficient evidence to justify this expense.
  • The larger vehicles are still moving slowly due to the extra expense of battery packs.
  • Hanging lanterns that hold candles illuminate without the expense of wiring.
  • It could also be viewed as a disease, an obsession with order at the expense of utility.
British Dictionary definitions for expense


a particular payment of money; expenditure
money needed for individual purchases; cost; charge
(pl) incidental money spent in the performance of a job, commission, etc, usually reimbursed by an employer or allowable against tax
something requiring money for its purchase or upkeep: the car was more of an expense than he had expected
at the expense of, to the detriment of: he succeeded at the expense of his health
(transitive) (US & Canadian) to treat as an expense for book-keeping or tax purposes
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin expēnsa, from Latin expēnsus weighed out; see expend
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 expense

late 14c., from Anglo-French expense, Old French espense "money provided for expenses," from Late Latin expensa "disbursement, outlay, expense," noun use of neuter plural past participle of Latin expendere "to weigh out money, to pay down" (see expend).

Latin spensa also yielded Medieval Latin spe(n)sa, whose sense specialized to "outlay for provisions," then "provisions, food," which was borrowed into Old High German as spisa and is the root of German Speise "food," now mostly meaning prepared food, and speisen "to eat."


1909, from expense (n.). Related: Expensed; expensing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with expense
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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