An expense is a cost, but you can also use this word to mean the figurative cost of something. If you find it embarrassing to dress up as Santa, you might say that you do it to amuse your nephews, at the expense of your pride.

When you give one thing up in order to get something else, its cost or sacrifice is the expense of getting what you want. You might worry that politicians want to cut taxes at the expense of schools that need money, or that oil companies increase drilling at the expense of the environment. The root of expense the Latin expendere, "to weigh out money or pay down."

Definitions of expense

n money spent to perform work and usually reimbursed by an employer

“he kept a careful record of his expenses at the meeting”
incidental, incidental expense, minor expense
(frequently plural) an expense not budgeted or not specified
travel expense
(frequently plural) expenses incurred by an employee in the performance of the job and usually reimbursed by the employer
Type of:
expenditure, outgo, outlay, spending
money paid out; an amount spent

n amounts paid for goods and services that may be currently tax deductible (as opposed to capital expenditures)

disbursal, disbursement
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business expense, trade expense
ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in a taxpayer's business or trade
interest expense
interest paid on loans
lobbying expense
expenses incurred in promoting or evaluating legislation
medical expense
amount spent for diagnosis or treatment or prevention of medical problems
non-cash expense
an expense (such as depreciation) that is not paid for in cash
moving expense
the cost of moving your residence from one location to another
budget items, operating cost, operating expense, overhead
the expense of maintaining property (e.g., paying property taxes and utilities and insurance); it does not include depreciation or the cost of financing or income taxes
personal expense
the cost of personal or family living
organization expense
the cost (over a period of five years) of organizing a new corporation or partnership
promotional expense
the cost of promoting a product
depreciation, wear and tear
decrease in value of an asset due to obsolescence or use
Type of:
the total spent for goods or services including money and time and labor

n a detriment or sacrifice

“at the expense of”
Type of:
detriment, hurt
a damage or loss

v reduce the estimated value of something

write down, write off
Type of:
lower the value of something

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