Pricier or Costlier? Which is appropriate and for when?

Example sentence: The documentation says "managed disks" are costlier than "un-managed disks" The documentation says "managed disks" are pricier than "un-managed disks"

The documentation says "managed disks" are more expensive than "un-managed disks"

Price in this example is per month instead of a one time payment, in which case I think "more expensive" might be the best fit.

  • 1
    The question is far too broad. As with any group of synonyms, specific context is required to choose between them, since different situations will have different answers. But, even then, it's often a matter of opinion. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 12:48
  • "Costly" implies a reference to the absolute price of the thing. "Pricey" implies a comparison to similar things. But both are used in a somewhat metaphorical sense.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 3:04
  • I wouldn't say I've ever heard the words "costlier" and "pricier" used - in fact the more I repeat them the more they sound absurd to my native ear. You wouldn't say "Xs are costlier than Ys", you'd say "Xs cost more than Ys", or "Xs are more pricey than Ys" - and "pricey" has the tenor of street slang, and is definitely inappropriate for formal use.
    – Steve
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 9:04
  • @Steve - "X is the costlier/pricier of the available choices"
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 16:22
  • @HotLicks, you can be understood, but both are longer in characters and syllables, and I know from experience that "X is the costlier of the two" is unidiomatic. "Pricier", and by extension "priciest", suggest illiteracy - and I don't say that in terms of grammar rules, I say that purely in terms of impression. It's like if you extend "waddle" to "waddley" - you might get away with saying "the big duck was the most waddley of the lot" in a mildly humourous and offhand way, but "waddlier" and "waddliest" would cause charges of illiteracy!
    – Steve
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


Pricey is a rather colloquial term for expensive. Costly is rather formal and most often used in a metaphorical sense (a costly mistake). In ordinary conversation I would say more expensive.


Pricey refers to 'the price' - ie how much you would pay for an item in a shop. It refers to the prevailing cost to buy something 'in the marketplace' - and to the difficulty that you might have, in finding it at a suitable or low price. 'Eggs are pricey at the moment'. 'Bananas were pricey in the market this morning'. 'I wanted to buy Seville oranges but they were pricier than the navel oranges, so I got those (navels) instead'.

Costly - refers to the affect of buying something, to you - the effect on your own pocket. 'The 'cost you must pay'. A costly investment'. 'The large stones were much costlier than the gravel - almost double the price per kilo'. 'The company wanted to invest in a new lawn but it was too costly for their budget'.

To reply to a commenter who has never heard 'costlier' or 'pricier' - these sound perfectly normal to my native English (but almost certainly older, ears).

Meaning: Pricier: Comparative form of pricey: more pricey https://www.yourdictionary.com/pricier

Meaning, Costlier: Comparative form of costly: more costly https://www.yourdictionary.com/costlier

In terms of your actual example, you might use:

Pricier - if you are concerned about the future likely increase in price of hard disks, in the market place and want to insulate the company against that. Or you might want to talk about quality: 'ABC company's disks are pricier - but we want to invest in these as we believe they are of higher quality, and may last longer'


Costlier: if you want to talk about the cost to the company's bottom line: 'Although we believe ABCs disks are superior, as they are also much costlier, we want to invest in only 5 of these plus 15 cheaper disks from XYZ company'.

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