expense [ik-spens] SynonymsWord Origin noun

  1. cost or charge: the expense of a good meal.
  2. a cause or occasion of spending: A car can be a great expense.
  3. the act of expending; expenditure.
  4. expenses,
    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), ex·pensed, ex·pens·ing.

  1. to charge or write off as an expense.

verb (used without object), ex·pensed, ex·pens·ing.

  1. to be expensed.


  1. 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 formsex·pense·less, adjectivepre·ex·pense, nounSynonyms for expense 1. outlay, expenditure. See price. British Dictionary definitions for at the expense of expense noun

  1. a particular payment of money; expenditure
  2. money needed for individual purchases; cost; charge
  3. (plural) incidental money spent in the performance of a job, commission, etc, usually reimbursed by an employer or allowable against tax
  4. something requiring money for its purchase or upkeepthe car was more of an expense than he had expected
  5. at the expense of to the detriment ofhe succeeded at the expense of his health


  1. (tr) US and Canadian to treat as an expense for book-keeping or tax purposes

Word Origin for expense C14: from Late Latin expēnsa, from Latin expēnsus weighed out; see expend Word Origin and History for at the expense of expense n.

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.”

expense v.

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

Idioms and Phrases with at the expense of at the expense of

Also, at one’s expense.


Paid for by someone, as in The hotel bill for the sales force is at the expense of the company. [Mid-1600s]


To the detriment or injury of a person or thing, as in We can’t speed up production at the expense of quality, or The laughter was all at Tom’s expense. [Late 1600s]


see at the expense of; go to the trouble (expense); money (expense) is no object.

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