costly


costly
costly adj Costly, expensive, dear, valuable, precious, invaluable, priceless mean having a high value or valuation, especially in terms of money. Costly, expensive, dear refer to the expenditure or sacrifice involved in obtaining or procuring a thing.
Costly applies to something which actually costs much; it usually implies such justification as sumptuousness, rarity, or fine workmanship
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their home is filled with costly furniture

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I took a costly jewel from my neck. A heart it was, bound in with diamonds— Shak.

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they are clad in very costly robes of silk; they are girdled like queens— Hearn

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Expensive applies chiefly to something which is high-priced, especially with the implication of a cost beyond the thing's value or the buyer's means
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an expensive suit of clothes

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the father . . . was unable to give the child as expensive an education as he had desired— Froude

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Both costly and expensive may also be applied to whatever involves great losses or is a drain upon one's resources, not only in money but in such matters as time, effort, or health
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an expensive error

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costly litigation

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expeditions which might prove costly in lives as well as money— Stefansson

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the rat is expensive to get rid of, but even more expensive to maintain— Heiser

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Dear is opposed to cheap and commonly suggests a high, often an exorbitant, price or excessive cost; usually it implies a relation to other factors than the intrinsic worth of a thing
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butter is cheap when it is plentiful, and dear when it is scarce— Shaw

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Relatively high wages of building labor bring dearer housing— Hobson

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their stout resistance was destined to cost them dear. . . . Many thousand citizens were ruined— Motley

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Valuable when applied to things which have monetary value usually suggests the price they will bring in a sale or exchange
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the most valuable dog in the kennel

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he stores away all his valuable effects when he goes on a tour

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a valuable piece of property

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Valuable, however, often suggests worth that is not measured in material goods, but in such qualities as usefulness, serviceableness, or advantageousness
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a valuable citizen

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the most valuable course in a college career

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a valuable piece of evidence

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food is valuable to the animal and moisture to the plant— Alexander

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beauty which is humanly valuable but biologically useless— Krutch

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Precious originally came closer in meaning to costly than to valuable, of which it is now a very close synonym. But it carries a heightened implication of worth and often applies to something or someone whose value can scarcely be computed in terms of money
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precious friends hid in death's dateless night— Shak.

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happy is the man who findeth wisdom . . . she is more precious than rubies— Prov 3:13-15

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to any one who has ever looked on the face of a dead child or parent the mere fact that matter could have taken for a time that precious form, ought to make matter sacred ever after— James

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and these two things, judgment and imagination, are, with knowledge itself, the most precious results of well directed schooling— Grandgent

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When applied to a thing of monetary value, precious usually means that it is one of the rarest and most costly of the class that is named
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precious stones

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an alabaster box of very precious ointment— Mt 26:7

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but it may mean that the thing so described is too scarce and therefore, often, too expensive to use freely or generally
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be careful of the butter; it's too precious to waste

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Invaluable and priceless imply worth that cannot be estimated. In practice they are sometimes used when precious is actually meant but would seem not quite in keeping for one reason or another
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an invaluable servant

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this invaluable liquor was of a pale golden hue, like other of the rarest Italian wines— Hawthorne

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a priceless jewel

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the colleges of this country have been a priceless element in the making of the freedom and might of this nation— L. M. Chamberlain

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Therefore their use tends to be hyperbolical and often, especially in the case of priceless, intensive
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I've just heard a priceless story

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isn't that dress priceless?

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Analogous words: exorbitant, extravagant, *excessive: sumptuous, *luxurious, opulent
Antonyms: cheap
Contrasted words: beggarly, sorry, scurvy, *contemptible: poor, *bad

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • costly — [kôst′lē, käst′lē] adj. costlier, costliest [ME: see COST & LY1] 1. a) costing much; expensive; dear b) at the cost of great effort, damage, sacrifice, etc. [a costly victory] …   English World dictionary

  • Costly — is a Honduran surname, and may refer to: Anthony Costly (born 1954), Honduran footballer Carlo Costly (born 1982), Honduran footballer This page or section lists people with the surname Costly. If an in …   Wikipedia

  • costly — UK US /ˈkɒstli/ adjective ► costing a lot of money: »costly repairs »The delays in the schedule proved very costly. → See Note EXPENSIVE(Cf. ↑expensive) ► harmful, and involving a lot of loss or damage: »Their failure to cons …   Financial and business terms

  • Costly — Cost ly (k?st l?; 115), a. [From Cost expense.] [1913 Webster] 1. Of great cost; expensive; dear. [1913 Webster] He had fitted up his palace in the most costly and sumptuous style, for the accomodation of the princess. Prescott. [1913 Webster] 2 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • costly — [adj1] expensive an arm and leg*, cher*, dear, excessive, executive, exorbitant, extortionate, extravagant, fancy, high, highly priced, high priced, inordinate, precious, premium, pricey, steep, stiff*, top, valuable; concept 334 Ant. cheap,… …   New thesaurus

  • costly — ► ADJECTIVE (costier, costiest) 1) expensive. 2) causing suffering, loss, or disadvantage: a costly mistake. DERIVATIVES costliness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • costly — index harmful, inestimable, invaluable, priceless, sterling, valuable Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • costly — late 14c., from COST (Cf. cost) + LY (Cf. ly) (1). Earlier formation with the same sense were costful (mid 13c.), costious (mid 14c.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • costly */ — UK [ˈkɒs(t)lɪ] / US [ˈkɔs(t)lɪ] adjective Word forms costly : adjective costly comparative costlier superlative costliest formal 1) costing a lot of money They have been investing in costly new equipment. a costly business/process/exercise:… …   English dictionary

  • costly — adj. VERBS ▪ be, become, prove ADVERB ▪ extremely, fairly, very, etc. ▪ enormously …   Collocations dictionary


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