English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for the X in the following sentence:

Cost: $5 per item plus $20 X

The X is a fixed cost paid once, no matter how many items are bought. This line is for a formal business documentation.

share|improve this question
What is it paying for? – Matt E. Эллен Apr 12 '11 at 21:32
Would not fee be a word you could use? – kiamlaluno Apr 12 '11 at 22:45
@Matt: I'm selling files containing aggregated data. The overhead is there just to encourage the client to buy more than a single file and has absolutely no relation to shipping. – user7335 Apr 13 '11 at 23:18
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Would overhead work for your purposes?

From Merriam-Webster:


  1. business expenses (as rent, insurance, or heating) not chargeable to a particular part of the work or product
  2. ceiling; especially : the ceiling of a ship's compartment
  3. a stroke in a racket game made above head height : smash
share|improve this answer

You could flip it, and say it's $25, plus $5 for each additional item.

share|improve this answer

It depends on the nature of it. For a flat fee, I'd say reorder:

Cost: $20 plus $5 per item

For a startup cost, use something like initial or base fee:

Cost: $5 per item plus $20 base

For a minimum item cost:

Cost: $5 per item plus $20 minimum

share|improve this answer

Can't think of a specific contract term - it's normally put under "handling" or "shipping and handling"

share|improve this answer

For the example you provide, surcharge would be an excellent option:

Cost: $5 per item plus $20 surcharge

Flat rate is also a standard term for what you describe:

Cost: $5 per item plus $20 flat rate

Definitions (NOAD):

an additional charge or payment

flat rate
a charge that is the same in all cases , not varying in proportion with something:

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.