Meaning of COST in English


I. cost 1 S1 W1 /kɒst $ kɒːst/ BrE AmE noun

1 . [countable] the amount of money that you have to pay in order to buy, do, or produce something

cost of

the cost of accommodation

I offered to pay the cost of the taxi.

Insurance to cover the cost of a funeral is possible.

This doesn’t include the cost of repairing the damage.

The new building’s going up at a cost of $82 million.

low cost housing

the high cost of production

A cassette/radio is included at no extra cost.

The funds will just cover the museum’s running costs.

⇨ ↑ cost of living


In everyday English, people usually ask how much did it cost? or how much was it? rather than using the noun cost :

▪ What was the cost of the accommodation? ➔ How much did the accommodation cost?

▪ | I’ll find out the cost. ➔ I’ll find out how much it costs/is.

2 . costs [plural]

a) the money that you must regularly spend in order to run a business, a home, a car etc

reduce/cut costs

We have to cut costs in order to remain competitive.

At this rate we’ll barely cover our costs (=make enough money to pay for the things we have bought) .

the travel costs incurred in attending the meeting (=money you have to spend)

Because of the engine’s efficiency the car has very low running costs (=the cost of owning and using a car or machine) .

b) ( also court costs ) the money that you must pay to lawyers etc if you are involved in a legal case in court, especially if you are found guilty:

Bellisario won the case and was awarded costs.

He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,200.

3 . [uncountable and countable] something that you lose, give away, damage etc in order to achieve something

at (a) cost to somebody

She had kept her promise to Christine, but at what cost to herself?

social/environmental etc cost

They need to weigh up the costs and benefits (=disadvantages and advantages) of regulation.

He’s determined to win, whatever the cost (=no matter how much work, money, risk etc is needed) .

We must avoid a scandal at all costs (=whatever happens) .

4 . [singular] especially American English the price that someone pays for something that they are going to sell SYN cost price

at cost

His uncle’s a car dealer and let him buy the car at cost (=without making a profit) .

5 . know/find out/learn etc something to your cost to realize something is true because you have had a very unpleasant experience:

Driving fast in wet conditions is dangerous, as my brother discovered to his cost!

⇨ count the cost at ↑ count 1 (10)

• • •


■ verbs

▪ pay the cost of something

I’m not sure how I’m going to pay the cost of going to college.

▪ cover the cost (=pay for something)

The money he had saved just covered the cost of the trip.

▪ meet/bear the cost of something (=pay for something, especially with difficulty)

His family were unable to meet the cost of his operation.

▪ afford the cost of something

We can’t afford the cost of a holiday abroad this year.

▪ reduce/lower/bring down the cost

If you go later in the year, it will bring down the cost of your holiday.

▪ cut the cost (=reduce it)

The government has promised to cut the cost of medical care.

▪ increase/push up the cost

The new tax will increase the cost of owning a car.

▪ the cost rises/goes up

The cost of electricity has risen again.

▪ the cost falls/goes down

Airline costs have fallen considerably.

■ adjectives

▪ high/low

the high cost of fuel

▪ the average cost

What’s the average cost of a wedding in the UK?

▪ an extra/additional cost

At the campsite, many activities are available at no extra cost.

▪ the full/total cost

Experts are still assessing the full cost of the disaster.

▪ the estimated cost (=one that is guessed and may not be exact)

The estimated cost was in the region of £3,000.

▪ the annual/monthly cost

This figure represents the annual cost of a loan.

▪ labour/production/transport etc costs

They had to pay £30,000 in legal costs.

▪ running/operating costs (=the amount it costs to run a business, a machine etc)

The new technology is cheaper and the running costs are lower.

▪ borrowing costs (=the amount it costs to borrow money from a bank)

Interest rates and borrowing costs are likely to be higher next year.

■ phrases

▪ the cost of living (=the amount you need to pay for food, clothes etc)

People are complaining about the rising cost of living.

• • •


▪ cost the amount of money you need to buy or do something. Cost is usually used when talking in a general way about whether something is expensive or cheap rather than when talking about exact prices:

The cost of running a car is increasing.


the cost of raw materials

▪ price the amount of money you must pay for something that is for sale:

They sell good-quality clothes at reasonable prices.


the price of a plane ticket to New York

▪ value the amount of money that something is worth:

A new kitchen can increase the value of your home.

▪ charge the amount that you have to pay for a service or to use something:

Hotel guests may use the gym for a small charge.


bank charges

▪ fee the amount you have to pay to enter a place or join a group, or for the services of a professional person such as a lawyer or a doctor:

There is no entrance fee.


The membership fee is £125 a year.


legal fees

▪ fare the amount you have to pay to travel somewhere by bus, plane, train etc:

I didn’t even have enough money for my bus fare.


fare increases

▪ rent the amount you have to pay to live in or use a place that you do not own:

The rent on his apartment is $800 a month.

▪ rate a charge that is set according to a standard scale:

Most TV stations offer special rates to local advertisers.

▪ toll the amount you have to pay to travel on some roads or bridges:

You have to pay tolls on many French motorways.

II. cost 2 S1 W2 BrE AmE verb

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: coster , from Latin constare 'to stand firm, cost' ; ⇨ ↑ constant 1 ]

1 . ( past tense and past participle cost ) [linking verb] to have a particular price:

A full day’s activities will cost you £45.

His proposals could cost the taxpayer around £8 billion a year.

How much would it cost us to replace?

not cost somebody a penny (=cost nothing)

It won’t cost you a penny for the first six months.

cost a (small) fortune/a pretty penny (=have a very high price)

It’s costing us a fortune in phone bills.

cost a bomb/a packet British English (=have a very high price)

What a fantastic dress. It must have cost a bomb!

Lighting can change the look of a room and needn’t cost the earth (=have a price which is too high) .

Getting that insured is going to cost you an arm and a leg (=have a very high price) .

2 . cost somebody their job/life/marriage etc when something makes you lose your job etc:

Joe’s brave action cost him his life.

His strong stand on the issue could have cost him his job.

Bad management could be costing this club a chance at the title.

3 . cost somebody dear/dearly to make someone suffer a lot or to lose something important:

A couple of missed chances in the first half cost them dear.

The scandal has cost Nicholson dearly.

4 . ( past tense and past participle costed ) [transitive usually passive] to calculate the total price of something or decide how much the price of something should be:

We’ll get the plan costed before presenting it to the board.

5 . it will cost you spoken used to say that something will be expensive:

Tickets are available, but they’ll cost you!

• • •


■ phrases

▪ cost a lot

Their hair products are really good but they cost a lot.

▪ not cost much

Second hand clothes don’t cost much.

▪ cost something per minute/hour/year etc

Calls cost only 2p per minute.

▪ cost something per person

There’s a one-day course that costs £80 per person.

▪ cost something per head (=per person)

The meal will cost about £20 per head.

▪ not cost (somebody) a penny (=cost nothing)

Using the Internet, you can make phone calls that don’t cost a penny.

▪ cost a fortune/cost the earth (=have a very high price)

If you use a lawyer, it will cost you a fortune.

▪ cost a bomb/a packet British English (=have a very high price)

He has a new sports car that must have cost a bomb.

▪ cost an arm and a leg (=have a price that is much too high)

A skiing holiday needn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

• • •


▪ cost to have a particular price:

The book costs $25.


A new kitchen will cost you a lot of money.


It’s a nice dress and it didn’t cost much.

▪ be especially spoken to cost a particular amount of money:

These shoes were only £5.

▪ be priced at something to have a particular price – used when giving the exact price that a shop or company charges for something:

Tickets are priced at $20 for adults and $10 for kids.

▪ retail at something to be sold in shops at a particular price – used especially in business:

The scissors retail at £1.99 in department stores.

▪ sell/go for something used for saying what people usually pay for something:

Houses in this area sell for around £200,000.

▪ fetch used for saying what people pay for something, especially at a public sale:

The painting fetched over $8,000 at auction.


A sports car built for Mussolini is expected to fetch nearly £1 million at auction.

▪ set somebody back something informal to cost someone a lot of money:

A good set of speakers will set you back around £150.

▪ come to if a bill comes to a particular amount, it adds up to that amount:

The bill came to £100 between four of us.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.