opportunity cost

noun Economics.
the money or other benefits lost when pursuing a particular course of action instead of a mutually-exclusive alternative: The company cannot afford the opportunity cost attached to policy decisions made by the current CEO.

Origin:
1910-15

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
opportunity cost
 
n
economics the benefit that could have been gained from an alternative use of the same resource

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
Nor does the game consider the opportunity cost to the offerer.
Second, the real cost of consuming oil must include the opportunity cost and
  risk of not having oil in the future.
On the way home, you're mulling the opportunity cost: what you could have done
  with the five grand.
Our economy pays a major opportunity cost of paying these people to do
  something which adds no value except the avoidance of tax.
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