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Costly vs. Expensive: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Costly refers to something having a high price or great expense, often implying a significant expenditure relative to value, while expensive specifically denotes a high price.
Costly vs. Expensive

Key Differences

Costly implies a high expenditure or price, often in relation to the value or utility derived. Expensive, on the other hand, simply refers to a high monetary cost, without necessarily implying a comparison to value.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
A costly item may suggest not only a high price but also a significant impact or sacrifice, possibly beyond monetary aspects. Expensive, however, focuses primarily on the monetary aspect, indicating a high price tag.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
Costly can also imply consequences or outcomes, suggesting that something may be expensive in terms of effort, time, or other resources. Expensive typically pertains solely to financial cost, without such broader implications.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
In usage, 'costly' can carry a connotation of regret or loss, hinting that the price paid may not equate to the value received. 'Expensive' is more neutral, merely indicating a high price without additional connotations.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
Costly items or decisions can affect one's overall situation, like a costly mistake affecting future opportunities. Expensive refers more to the immediate financial aspect, such as an expensive purchase affecting one’s budget.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Meaning

High cost, possibly exceeding value or expectation.
Having a high monetary price.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Connotation

May imply regret or loss, broader than just monetary.
Primarily monetary, without additional implications.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Scope

Can refer to monetary, time, effort, or other resources.
Mainly focuses on monetary cost.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Usage Context

Often used in context of decisions or investments.
Used in context of pricing of goods or services.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Implication

Implies a significant expenditure relative to value.
Indicates a high price tag, not necessarily value.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
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Costly and Expensive Definitions

Costly

Involving great expense; high-priced.
The restoration of the historic building was a costly project.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Expensive

Costing a lot of money.
She bought an expensive dress for the gala.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Costly

Requiring a lot of money or resources.
Their wedding was a costly affair.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Expensive

Involving high cost or sacrifice.
Relocating to a new city is an expensive endeavor.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Costly

Entailing a loss or negative consequences.
Neglecting car maintenance can be a costly mistake.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023
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Expensive

High in price or charging high prices.
That restaurant is known for being expensive.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Costly

Having a high price, especially in a way that seems unfair or disadvantageous.
The medication is lifesaving but extremely costly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Expensive

Requiring a lot of money to buy or maintain.
Luxury cars are generally very expensive to maintain.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Costly

Resulting in great expense.
The legal battle turned out to be more costly than anticipated.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Expensive

Having a high price or great value.
The antique vase is one of the most expensive items in the collection.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 21, 2023

Costly

Of high price or value; expensive
Costly jewelry.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

Requiring a large expenditure; costly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Costly

Entailing loss or sacrifice
A costly war.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

Marked by high prices
Expensive stores.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Costly

Of high cost; expensive.
A costly activity
A costly error
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

(obsolete) Given to expending a lot of money; profligate, lavish.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Costly

Of great cost; expensive; dear.
He had fitted up his palace in the most costly and sumptuous style, for the accomodation of the princess.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

Having a high price or cost.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Costly

Gorgeous; sumptuous.
To show how costly summer was at hand.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

(computing) Taking a lot of system time or resources.
An unnecessarily expensive choice of algorithm
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Costly

Entailing great loss or sacrifice;
A dearly-won victory
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

Occasioning expense; calling for liberal outlay; costly; dear; liberal; as, expensive dress; an expensive house or family.
War is expensive, and peace desirable.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Costly

Having a high price;
Costly jewelry
High-priced merchandise
Much too dear for my pocketbook
A pricey restaurant
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

Free in expending; very liberal; especially, in a bad sense: extravagant; lavish.
An active, expensive, indefatigable goodness.
The idle and expensive are dangerous.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Expensive

High in price or charging high prices;
Expensive clothes
An expensive shop
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can a service be costly?

Yes, if it requires significant resources or investment.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is expensive a subjective term?

It can be, as perceptions of what is expensive vary based on individual circumstances.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is expensive always related to money?

Primarily, but it can also refer to high value or cost in general terms.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Can a product be both costly and expensive?

Yes, if it has a high price and also entails significant investment or sacrifice.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is costly used more for long-term implications?

Often, as it can imply consequences or impact beyond immediate monetary cost.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Do costly endeavors always have monetary implications?

They often do, but they can also imply other types of resources or efforts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Does costly imply poor value?

Not necessarily, but it can suggest that the cost is high relative to the value.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is expensive related to luxury?

Often, as luxury goods and services typically have high prices.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Can inexpensive things be costly in the long run?

Yes, if they lead to additional expenses or negative outcomes over time.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Can a decision be costly?

Yes, especially if it leads to significant consequences or sacrifices.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Do costly mistakes always involve money?

Not always; they can involve time, effort, or missed opportunities.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Can a low-price item be expensive to maintain?

Yes, if it requires significant ongoing investment or resources.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is expensive relative to income levels?

Yes, what is expensive for one person may not be for another.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Can the term expensive be used positively?

Yes, it can denote high quality or value.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Does expensive mean overpriced?

Not necessarily; it just means the price is high, not that it is unjustified.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Can an experience be costly?

Yes, in terms of time, effort, or emotional investment.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Can investments be costly?

Yes, if they involve high expenditure or risk.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is expensive always a negative term?

Not always; it can simply indicate a high price without a negative connotation.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is costly used in terms of risk assessment?

Yes, especially when considering potential losses or negative outcomes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

Is expensive a deterrent for buyers?

It can be, depending on the perceived value and the buyer's resources.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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