Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

expense - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun expense pronunciation in British English /ɪkˈspens/
Word Forms
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
     expense pronunciation in British English /ɪkˈspens/ [countable] an amount of money that you spend in order to buy or do something

    Rent is our biggest expense.

    You can claim part of your telephone bill as a business expense.

    incur an expense:

    The insurance will cover all expenses incurred during your time in hospital.

    cover/meet an expense:

    people struggling to meet their basic living expenses

  2. 2
    [uncountable] the high cost of something

    A powerful computer is worth the expense if you use it regularly.

    expense of:

    the expense and inconvenience of recovering cargo from sunken ships

    go to great/considerable etc expense (=spend a lot of money):

    His parents went to great trouble and expense to make sure the party was a success.

    go to the expense of doing something (=spend money on doing something):

    We didn’t want to go to the expense of sending a courier.

    put someone to the expense of doing something (=make someone spend money on doing something):

    That little mistake put us to the expense of reprinting the whole book.

  3. 3


    [plural] money that you spend as part of your job that your employer later gives back to you

    The company pays all our expenses.

    put something on expenses (=charge it to your employer):

    Let me pay – I can put it on expenses.

    plus expenses:

    Your salary will be £50,000 a year, plus expenses.

    reimburse expenses:

    All reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.


sea lion

in an online conversation, repeatedly asking a person questions which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an electric skateboard

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play