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Fee vs. Fine: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A fee is a payment made for a service or privilege, while a fine is a monetary penalty imposed for a violation or offense.
Fee vs. Fine

Key Differences

A fee is a payment made for a professional service or a charge for accessing a service or facility. Fines, on the other hand, are monetary penalties imposed as a result of breaking a law or rule.
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Nov 12, 2023
Fees are often voluntary, paid in exchange for a desired service like tuition fees or consultation fees. Fines, conversely, are involuntary and punitive, such as a speeding fine or a fine for littering.
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In terms of purpose, fees serve to compensate for a service provided or facilitate the functioning of services like libraries or parks. Fines are designed to deter and punish undesirable or illegal behavior.
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The amount of a fee typically corresponds to the cost or value of the service provided, like a lawyer's fee. The size of a fine is usually determined by the severity of the offense, like a fine for illegal parking.
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Fees are often predetermined and known to users in advance, such as entry fees to a museum. Fines, however, are typically imposed after an infraction has occurred, like a fine for not wearing a seatbelt.
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Payment for services or access.
Penalty for wrongdoing or violation.
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Voluntariness

Generally voluntary and known in advance.
Involuntary and punitive.
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Purpose

To cover the cost of services or access.
To deter and punish illegal or undesirable behavior.
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Determination of Amount

Based on service value or cost.
Based on the severity of the offense or rule violation.
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Frequency

Regular or as per use (e.g., annual subscription fee).
Imposed as needed when rules are broken.
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Fee and Fine Definitions

Fee

Charge for professional advice.
The lawyer charges a $200 consultation fee.
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Fine

Penalty for exceeding the speed limit.
He received a $100 speeding fine.
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Fee

A fixed sum charged, as by an institution or by law, for a privilege
A license fee.
Tuition fees.
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Fine

Penalty for improper disposal of trash.
There's a $200 littering fine for throwing garbage on the streets.
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Fee

A charge for professional services
A surgeon's fee.
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Fine

Of superior quality, skill, or appearance
A fine day.
A fine wine.
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Fee

A tip; a gratuity.
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Fine

Excellent in character or ability
A fine person.
A fine writer.
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Fee

(Law) See fee simple.
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Fine

Very small in size, weight, or thickness
Fine type.
Fine paper.
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Fee

In feudal law, an estate in land granted by a lord to his vassal on condition of homage and service. Also called feud2, fief.
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Fine

Free from impurities.
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Fee

The land so held.
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Fine

(Metallurgy) Containing pure metal in a specified proportion or amount
Gold 21 carats fine.
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Fee

To give a tip to.
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Fine

Very sharp; keen
A blade with a fine edge.
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Fee

(Scots) To hire.
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Fine

Thin; slender
Fine hairs.
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Fee

(feudal law) A right to the use of a superior's land, as a stipend for services to be performed; also, the land so held; a fief.
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Fine

Carefully or delicately made or done
Fine china.
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Fee

(legal) An inheritable estate in land held of a feudal lord on condition of the performing of certain services.
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Fine

Consisting of very small particles; not coarse
Fine dust.
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Fee

(legal) An estate of inheritance in land, either absolute and without limitation to any particular class of heirs (fee simple) or limited to a particular class of heirs (fee tail).
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Fine

Marginally different or subtle
A fine difference.
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Fee

(obsolete) Property; owndom; estate.
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Fine

Able to make or detect effects of great subtlety or precision; sensitive
Has a fine eye for color.
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Fee

(obsolete) Money paid or bestowed; payment; emolument.
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Fine

Trained to the highest degree of physical efficiency
A fine racehorse.
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Fee

(obsolete) A prize or reward. Only used in the set phrase "A finder's fee" in Modern English.
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Fine

Characterized by refinement or elegance
People in the finest society.
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Fee

An additional monetary payment charged for a service or good that is minor compared to the underlying cost.
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Fine

Satisfactory; acceptable
Handing in your paper on Monday is fine.
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Fee

To reward for services performed, or to be performed; to recompense; to hire or keep in hire; hence, to bribe.
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Fine

Being in a state of satisfactory health; quite well
"How are you?" "I'm fine.".
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Fee

Property; possession; tenure.
Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee.
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Fine

Used as an intensive
A fine mess.
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Fee

Reward or compensation for services rendered or to be rendered; especially, payment for professional services, of optional amount, or fixed by custom or laws; charge; pay; perquisite; as, the fees of lawyers and physicians; the fees of office; clerk's fees; sheriff's fees; marriage fees, etc.
To plead for love deserves more fee than hate.
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Fine

Finely.
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Fee

A right to the use of a superior's land, as a stipend for services to be performed; also, the land so held; a fief.
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Fine

(Informal) Very well
Doing fine.
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Fee

An estate of inheritance supposed to be held either mediately or immediately from the sovereign, and absolutely vested in the owner.
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Fine

To make or become finer, purer, or cleaner.
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Fee

An estate of inheritance belonging to the owner, and transmissible to his heirs, absolutely and simply, without condition attached to the tenure.
Buy the fee simple of my life for an hour and a quarter.
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Fine

To require the payment of a fine from; impose a fine on.
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Fee

To reward for services performed, or to be performed; to recompense; to hire or keep in hire; hence, to bribe.
The patient . . . fees the doctor.
There's not a one of them but in his houseI keep a servant feed.
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Fine

A sum of money required to be paid especially to the government as a penalty for an offense.
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Fee

A fixed charge for a privilege or for professional services
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Fine

(Obsolete) An end; a termination.
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Fee

An interest in land capable of being inherited
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Fine

Senses referring to subjective quality.
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Fee

Give a tip or gratuity to in return for a service, beyond the agreed-on compensation;
Remember to tip the waiter
Fee the steward
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Fine

Of superior quality.
The tree frog that they encountered was truly a fine specimen.
Only a really fine wine could fully complement Lucía's hand-made pasta.
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Fee

Charge for entering a facility.
The museum's admission fee is $10.
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Fine

(ironic) Impressively bad, inappropriate, or unsatisfactory.
You're a fine one to talk about laziness.
Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into.
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Fee

Charge for a provided service.
There's a $15 service fee for online ticket booking.
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Fine

(informal) Being acceptable, adequate, passable, or satisfactory.
How are you today? – Fine.
Will this one do? It's got a dent in it. – Yeah, it'll be fine, I guess.
It's fine with me if you stay out late, so long as you're back by three.
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Fee

Regular payment for ongoing services.
The magazine subscription fee is $30 per year.
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Fine

(informal) Good-looking, attractive.
That man is so fine that I'd jump into his pants without a moment's hesitation.
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Fee

Charge for being part of an organization.
The gym membership fee is $50 a month.
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Fine

Subtle, delicately balanced or discriminated.
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Fine

(obsolete) Showy; overdecorated.
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Fine

Delicate; subtle; exquisite; artful; dexterous.
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Fine

An answer often used to cover an unnecessary explanation, rather to avoid conflict or an argument. Saying "I'm fine" can be used to avoid inquiry when the speaker is not really okay.
Do you want to talk about what happened? – [sharply, with annoyance or discomfort] I'm fine!
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Fine

Senses referring to objective quality.
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Fine

Of a particular grade of quality, usually between very good and very fine, and below mint.
The small scratch meant that his copy of “X-Men #2” was merely fine when it otherwise would have been “near mint”.
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Fine

(of weather) Sunny and not raining.
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Fine

Consisting of especially minute particulates; made up of particularly small pieces.
Grind it into a fine powder.
When she touched the artifact, it collapsed into a heap of fine dust.
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Fine

Particularly slender; especially thin, narrow, or of small girth.
The threads were so fine that you had to look through a magnifying glass to see them.
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Fine

Made of slender or thin filaments.
They protected themselves from the small parasites with a fine wire mesh.
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Fine

Having a (specified) proportion of pure metal in its composition.
Coins nine tenths fine.
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Fine

(cricket) Behind the batsman and at a small angle to the line between the wickets.
...to nudge it through the covers (or tickle it down to fine leg) for a fournb...
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Fine

(obsolete) Subtle; thin; tenuous.
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Fine

Expression of (typically) reluctant or agreement.
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Fine

Well, nicely, in a positive, agreeable way.
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Fine

Finely; elegantly; delicately.
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Fine

In a manner so that the driven ball strikes the object ball so far to one side as to be barely deflected, the object ball being driven to one side.
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Fine

Fine champagne; French brandy.
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Fine

Something that is fine; fine particles.
They filtered silt and fines out of the soil.
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Fine

A fee levied as punishment for breaking the law.
The fine for jay-walking has gone from two dollars to thirty in the last fifteen years.
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Fine

(obsolete) Money paid by a tenant on the commencement of a tenancy so that his or her rent may be small or nominal.
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Fine

(Cantab slang) A drink that must be taken during a meal or as part of a drinking game, following an announcement that anyone who has done some (usually outrageous) deed is to be fined; similar to I have never; commonly associated with swaps; very similar to a sconce at Oxford University, though a fine is the penalty itself rather than the act of issuing it.
Fine if you've…
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Fine

(music) The end of a musical composition.
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Fine

(music) The location in a musical score that indicates the end of the piece, particularly when the piece ends somewhere in the middle of the score due to a section of the music being repeated.
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Fine

(obsolete) End; conclusion; termination; extinction.
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Fine

(feudal law) A final agreement concerning lands or rents between persons, as the lord and his vassal.
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Fine

A sum of money or price paid for obtaining a benefit, favor, or privilege, as for admission to a copyhold, or for obtaining or renewing a lease.
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Fine

(transitive) To make finer, purer, or cleaner; to purify or clarify.
To fine gold
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Fine

(intransitive) To become finer, purer, or cleaner.
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Fine

To make finer, or less coarse, as in bulk, texture, etc.
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Fine

To change by fine gradations.
To fine down a ship's lines, i.e. to diminish her lines gradually
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Fine

(transitive) To clarify (wine and beer) by filtration.
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Fine

To become gradually fine; to diminish; to dwindle (with away, down, or off).
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Fine

(transitive) To issue a fine as punishment to (someone).
She was fined a thousand dollars for littering, but she appealed.
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Fine

(intransitive) To pay a fine.
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Fine

To finish; to cease.
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Fine

To cause to cease; to stop.
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Fine

Finished; brought to perfection; refined; hence, free from impurity; excellent; superior; elegant; worthy of admiration; accomplished; beautiful.
The gain thereof [is better] than fine gold.
A cup of wine that's brisk and fine.
Not only the finest gentleman of his time, but one of the finest scholars.
To soothe the sick bed of so fine a being [Keats].
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Fine

Aiming at show or effect; loaded with ornament; overdressed or overdecorated; showy.
He gratified them with occasional . . . fine writing.
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Fine

Nice; delicate; subtle; exquisite; artful; skillful; dexterous.
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
The nicest and most delicate touches of satire consist in fine raillery.
He has as fine a hand at picking a pocket as a woman.
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Fine

Not coarse, gross, or heavy
The eye standeth in the finer medium and the object in the grosser.
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Fine

Not coarse; comminuted; in small particles; as, fine sand or flour.
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Fine

Having (such) a proportion of pure metal in its composition; as, coins nine tenths fine.
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Fine

Used ironically.
Ye have made a fine hand, fellows.
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Fine

To make fine; to refine; to purify, to clarify; as, to fine gold.
It hath been fined and refined by . . . learned men.
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Fine

To make finer, or less coarse, as in bulk, texture, etc.; as. to fine the soil.
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Fine

To change by fine gradations; as (Naut.), to fine down a ship's lines, to diminish her lines gradually.
I often sate at homeOn evenings, watching how they fined themselvesWith gradual conscience to a perfect night.
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Fine

To impose a pecuniary penalty upon for an offense or breach of law; to set a fine on by judgment of a court; to punish by fine; to mulct; as, the trespassers were fined ten dollars.
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Fine

To finish; to cease; or to cause to cease.
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Fine

To become fine (in any one of various senses); as, the ale will fine; the weather fined.
I watched her [the ship] . . . gradually fining down in the westward until I lost of her hull.
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Fine

End; conclusion; termination; extinction.
Is this the fine of his fines?
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Fine

A sum of money paid as the settlement of a claim, or by way of terminating a matter in dispute; especially, a payment of money imposed upon a party as a punishment for an offense; a mulct.
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Fine

A final agreement concerning lands or rents between persons, as the lord and his vassal.
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Fine

A sum of money or price paid for obtaining a benefit, favor, or privilege, as for admission to a copyhold, or for obtaining or renewing a lease.
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Fine

Finely; well; elegantly; fully; delicately; mincingly.
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Fine

In a manner so that the driven ball strikes the object ball so far to one side as to be deflected but little, the object ball being driven to one side.
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Fine

Money extracted as a penalty
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Fine

Issue a ticket or a fine to as a penalty;
I was fined for parking on the wrong side of the street
Move your car or else you will be ticketed!
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Fine

Superior to the average;
In fine spirits
A fine student
Made good grades
Morale was good
Had good weather for the parade
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Fine

Being satisfactory or in satisfactory condition;
An all-right movie
The passengers were shaken up but are all right
Is everything all right?
Everything's fine
Things are okay
Dinner and the movies had been fine
Another minute I'd have been fine
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Fine

Minutely precise especially in differences in meaning;
A fine distinction
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Fine

Of texture; being small-grained or smooth to the touch or having fine particles;
Wood with a fine grain
Fine powdery snow
Fine rain
Batiste is a cotton fabric with a fine weave
Covered with a fine film of dust
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Fine

Being in good health;
He's feeling all right again
I'm fine, how are you?
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Fine

Thin in thickness or diameter;
A fine film of oil
Fine hairs
Read the fine print
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Fine

Characterized by elegance or refinement or accomplishment;
Fine wine
Looking fine in her Easter suit
A fine gentleman
Fine china and crystal
A fine violinist
The fine hand of a master
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Fine

; free or impurities; having a high or specified degree of purity;
Gold 21 carats fine
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Fine

(of weather) pleasant; not raining, perhaps with the sun shining;
A fine summer evening
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Fine

Sentence-initial expression of agreement
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Fine

In a delicate manner;
Finely shaped features
Her fine drawn body
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Fine

In a superior and skilled manner;
The soldiers were fighting finely
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Fine

Penalty for illegal parking.
I got a $50 parking fine for overstaying the meter.
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Fine

Penalty for overdue items or payments.
The library imposes a $1 per day late fine.
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Fine

Court-imposed penalty for legal violations.
The judge imposed a $500 judicial fine for the misdemeanor.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a fine?

A monetary penalty for a violation or wrongdoing.
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Are fees refundable?

Depends on the policy of the service provider; some fees are non-refundable.
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What is a fee?

A charge for a specific service or facility access.
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Are fines consistent for similar offenses?

Generally, but they can vary based on location and specific circumstances.
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Can a fine be a criminal record?

In some cases, particularly for more serious offenses.
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Nov 12, 2023

Can fines be contested?

Yes, fines can often be contested in a court or through an appeals process.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is a subscription fee recurring?

Yes, it's typically a regular, ongoing charge.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Who imposes fines?

Legal authorities, government bodies, or institutions.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Do fees vary by service?

Yes, fees vary based on the nature and value of the service.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Who sets the fees for services?

The service provider or governing body of the service.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Do fines differ in different jurisdictions?

Yes, they can vary significantly by location.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Are consultation fees standard?

They can vary widely based on the professional's expertise.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Can fees be negotiated?

In some cases, particularly for private services.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Are fines tax-deductible?

Usually, fines are not tax-deductible.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is a fine for littering common?

Yes, many places impose fines to discourage littering.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is a membership fee always monthly?

No, it can be structured monthly, annually, or as per the organization's policy.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Can fees change over time?

Yes, fees can be adjusted based on various factors.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Do fines serve as a deterrent?

Yes, they are intended to discourage rule-breaking behavior.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

What happens if a fine is not paid?

It can lead to legal consequences or additional penalties.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 2023

Is there a fee for using a credit card?

Some merchants impose a fee for credit card transactions.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 12, 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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