I was at the optical store getting a new pair of glasses and lens. Since I have a somewhat high prescription, when selecting the features for the lenses I asked the clerk whether there is an option where the lenses can be made thinner than the regular lenses with the same prescription and she said yes, those are the high-index lenses and they cost a little bit more. Then I asked her since these lenses are thinner thus better, will it lose quality in other areas such as clarity, impact resistance, etc.. I feel the way I asked this is somewhat wordy and I wonder if there's an expression that means what I'm trying to say. An expression that describes the fact of getting something that improves its quality, but will in turn cause the lost of quality in something else sort of like a balance, I guess similar to the word sacrifice? But using sacrifice doesn't seem that correct in this context.

  • I have a rather strong prescription and I got some very excellent thinner high-index plastic lenses and the only thing I sacrificed was a little extra money. Clarity, break-resistance, durability of these lenses were actually better in all respects than the lower-index plastic lenses (or worse, glass). The trade-off, more expense, was well worth it! I love these new lenses! Jun 27, 2013 at 17:49
  • To get a better value in one, you need to compromise on another. "His goal was to run a successful business without compromising his principles." (dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/business-english/…)
    – Kris
    Jun 28, 2013 at 7:08

4 Answers 4


In my humble opinion, the word "trade-off" is most appropriate here. Sacrifice suggests loss, not gain. You would have to use both "sacrifice" and "gain" to obtain the meaning that "trade-off" provides in one package.

You could then ask:

"What are the trade-offs?" rather than "What do I sacrifice for these gains?"

  • or "are there trade-offs for this thinness" works as well?
    – Theo
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:54
  • Of course! It's a marvelous word. Jun 27, 2013 at 17:56
  • drat. I was looking for that word :)
    – mplungjan
    Jun 27, 2013 at 21:06
  • Yes, I saw the two responses that came before me and marveled that neither of you came up with it before me. Sometimes it is my chance to shine. Usually I get there too late, more's the pity. Jun 27, 2013 at 21:16

To sacrifice resistance for thinness is correct English.

Sacrifice food for weight loss

Sacrifice salary for job safety

I sacrificed stability for lightness when I chose my sunglasses

You gained thinner lenses at the cost of impact resistance

Are there any disadvantages to these thinner lenses?

  • I prefer your last suggestion but you forgot to put "disadvantages" in italics. (I didn't see it the first time.)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 27, 2013 at 22:15

This is similar to "negative externalities". These are basically things that are inherently included in any given action that are detrimental. Usually they are something that should not be ignored, but are at first.

For example, lets say everybody really wants a big Wal-mart to be built in their city, because it is cheaper and faster. At first the idea is great, however, a negative externality may be that people who own small businesses may be pushed out, and then they are worse-off than they were before.

I really love this word, it is the perfect thing to use in this type of situation. Also remember that there can be positive externalities as well! :)


Sacrifice works. Maybe trade, exchange and forego too?

To trade resistance for thinness?

To exchange resistance for thinness.

To forego resistance in favour of thinness.

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