also formerly expence, late 14c., "action of spending or giving away, a laying out or expending," also "funds provided for expenses, expense money; damage or loss from any cause," from Anglo-French expense, Old French espense "money provided for expenses," from Late Latin expensa "disbursement, outlay, expense," noun use of neuter plural past participle of Latin expendere "weigh out money, pay down," from ex "out, out of" (see ex-) + pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin").
Latin spensa also yielded Medieval Latin spe(n)sa, the sense of which specialized to "outlay for provisions," then "provisions, food" before it was borrowed into Old High German as spisa and became the root of German Speise "food," now mostly meaning prepared food, and speisen "to eat." Expense account is from 1872.
1909, from expense (n.). Related: Expensed; expensing.
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