a. Something spent to attain a goal or accomplish a purpose: an expense of time and energy on the project.
b. A loss for the sake of something gained; a sacrifice: achieved speed at the expense of accuracy.
2. An expenditure of money; a cost: an improvement that was well worth the expense; a trip with all expenses paid.
a. Charges incurred by an employee in the performance of work: was reimbursed for her travel expenses.
b. Informal Money allotted for payment of such charges.
4. Something requiring the expenditure of money: Redecorating the house will be a considerable expense.
5. Archaic The act of expending.
tr.v. ex·pensed, ex·pens·ing, ex·pens·esIdiom:
1. To charge with expenses.
2. To write off as an expense.
at (one's) expense
To one's detriment or chagrin: telling jokes at my expense.
[Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin (pecūnia) expēnsa, (money) paid out, feminine past participle of expendere, to pay out; see EXPEND.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.