I, sort of, tried to handpick the best resources and dictionaries for the semantic comparison/distinction of these two words. From those, I will share the definitions by the dictionaries I mainly tend to use.

Cambridge Dictionary

defines Expend, as:

Verb [T]: to use or spend time, effort, or money.

defines Spend, as:

Verb [I or T]: to give money as a payment for something:

Collins Dictionary

defines Expend as:

Verb: To expend something, especially energy, time, or money, means to use it or spend it.

defines Spend as:

Verb: When you spend money, you pay money for things that you want.

Is my understand correct, that:

Expend serves a bit more generic purpose in the cases, where we want to apply semantics of the Consuming some finite resource, be it a money, energy, fuel, or etc.


Spend defines exclusively the meaning of Spending money for something?

  • 2
    You should read the full definition; Cambridge gives 3 definitions for "spend" as a verb (headed MONEY, TIME, and FORCE), and you only quote the first.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 1, 2020 at 14:39
  • Sometimes, adding -able as a suffix can provide a clue. Consider spendable versus expendable.
    – user205876
    Jan 29, 2021 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, your understanding of the two verbs is correct. Expend is, as you point out, more generic than spend.

However, someone can spend more than just money.

I enjoy spending time with my friend Lisa. [The time period could be minutes, hours, or even days.]

I spend most of my afternoons reading. [Here, "most of my afternoons" comprises both the majority of the afternoons in a week's time (i.e., at least four out of seven) and perhaps the majority of hours in each of those afternoons (e.g., three or four hours within the time frame of noon to 5 PM).

Finally, if a person is totally exhausted, with absolutely no more energy to continue doing what he or she has been doing, you could describe that person as spent.

After having run six miles, Fred was completely spent.

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