I have a table called purchases and it stores details about purchases of items in a store. One of these details is the amount of money that were payed for items. How should I call this detail (or table field) in one word? I've been thinking about the following options: purchase price/cost/worth/value.


5 Answers 5


If the column is to store a cumulative total for several items purchased total or subtotal would be better.

If its the amount for a single item, and stores the amount paid by the customer, price would be preferable.

If its the amount for a single item, and reflects how much it costs for you to supply the item, cost would be preferable.

In case it isn't clear, in retail there is a distinction between the price the customer pays and the cost of the item to the business.

Also factor in that it is common to store amounts net of VAT/Sales Tax, so your columns might be NetTotal, NetPrice and NetCost or similar.

And for completeness, worth and value are ambiguous/inexact/subjective terms, that you wouldn't usually use in such a situation.

  • How about the name of the field that stores the amount that a retail shop earns from a purchase? Does purchase earnings make sense? Apr 8, 2011 at 11:13
  • Since I need to have a field for both how much the item sold for and how much the seller earned from that sale, I figured I could use just gross for the first and net for the second. What do you think? Apr 8, 2011 at 11:40
  • @Emanuil - Can the earnings not be derived (calculated) from the other columns? If so, don't bother storing it. As for gross and net, they are also ambiguous. Gross and Net what? GrossPrice & NetPrice seem more logical to me.
    – CJM
    Apr 8, 2011 at 12:55
  • Yes, the earnings can be derived but the thing is that the commission model may change over time so that the same product with the same price may earn a different amount at a different time. Apr 8, 2011 at 14:08
  • The terms gross and net could be ambiguous in general but in the context of purchases they are clear enough IMO, but I understand your point. Apr 8, 2011 at 14:11

Price and cost are the ones you should use, the others are too general and can refer to things that are not necessary money-related.

EDIT: Of course, also cost can refer to something "external" (E.G. I will do it at all costs), but still it is less polysemous than the other ones.

"Price" is even less polysemous than "cost". So it's up to you about whether choosing the first or the second.

  • Great, thanks! If I may ask a follow up question - what term would you suggest for another field in the same table that holds the amount that the seller of the purchased item earns from the purchase or in other words - the amount that's left after store's commission is deducted from the price? I've been thinking about using earnings or net but non of these sound good enough. Apr 8, 2011 at 10:39
  • @Emanuil: profit/balance?
    – JoseK
    Apr 8, 2011 at 13:39

Perhaps 'price' is the term you are looking for in this seller-oriented table view, but the other terms seem even more interesting from the seller's and the buyer's POV (POVs? P'sOV? PsOV?). Just to dilate percolate endlessly:

Item:         Normal-type cup of coffee
Merchant:     Mobil station at the corner
Time of Day:  0700 
Cost:         $  .10 (to the merchant)
Price:        $ 1.50 (to the buyer)
Worth:        $  .50 (realistic retail: merchant cost X markup percent)
Value:        $10.00 (to the buyer)

You'd think I had better things to do. You would be right! Hey! Coffee's ready.

EDIT: The staff has/have bean grinding the table finer and discovers/discover a calculus of value with independent variable time-of-day; and of price that depends upon merchant.


Price and Cost are the correct terms to use, but you need to be careful with how they are used, especially if you are referring to accounting terminology. In this case I would pick PRICE (or Sales Price) The actual cost to you for selling those items is completely different (hopefully less) and would refer to the Cost of Sales.

Cost would normally be used to indicate how much an item has cost you or what it has cost a purchaser. Price relates to the selling price or standard list price.

Probably off topic to get into the realms of accounting - but be very careful not to mix price and cost if your target audience is an accountant or a logistician


One of these details is the amount of money that were payed for items.

You could use price or cost as it sounds the most appropriate to what I can think of.

Thanks the people below for clarifying.

  • You suggest price total? Apr 8, 2011 at 10:13
  • How should I call this detail (or table field) in one word? <-this is what you asked, I believe total is a good name since its the total amount of money paid
    – l0Ft
    Apr 8, 2011 at 10:18
  • But total would be good if there were many prices in every row and the total of them at the final column, no? In this case he only has ONE column about the money...
    – Alenanno
    Apr 8, 2011 at 10:24
  • Yes you are right @Alenanno, i've edited my answer
    – l0Ft
    Apr 8, 2011 at 11:06

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