at all cost vs. at costs

Hi, is there any difference between ‘at all cost’ and ‘at all costs’?

Many thanks,

TOEIC listening, photographs: An artist at work[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

what i know is the following :
“at all cost[color=red]s” which is classified as an adverb.
“at [color=red]any cost” which is an adverb as well.

For the meaning, they have the same meaning; doing something regardless what it will cost us!

I know nothing about “at all cost”.

waiting for comments and corrections if there is any.

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Hi Rayan, where or how did you learn that ‘at all costs’ is an adverb? As far as I can see, it’s an idiom or a fixed phrase. Adverbs are single words such as ‘fairly’, ‘easily’ or ‘quite’.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A consultation[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,
Yes, ‘at all costs’ is an idiom. Sorry for the confusion. However, i think, ‘at any cost’ is an adverb!
What do you think?

I am also waiting for your feedback about my first response to your question.



I’ve found out that
at all costs = at any cost = at any price
If something must be done or avoided at all costs, it must be done or avoided whatever happens.
Security during the president’s visit must be maintained at all costs.
He wanted her at any cost, even if it meant giving up everything he had

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This still doesn’t answer my question.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A building site at dawn[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hello again,

The simple answer for your question is : yes there is a difference.The plural ‘s’ is the only orthographic difference.
I know nothing beyond this, including of course what i wrote above.

I’ll wait for the help of others :slight_smile:

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Hi Torsten,

I may be very wrong but I would think ‘at all costs’ is the idiom whereas ‘at all cost’ is not, yet in use.

I have a feeling that,

‘at all costs’ = regardless of effort (cost 1), trouble (cost 2), expense (cost 3), … concessions (cost n), etc.; and
‘at all cost’ = regardless of how much it may cost.


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Hi Haihao,

It seems to me that ‘at all cost’ has the same meaning as ‘at all costs’. It looks like another version of the idiom. Here are some sentences that show how the phrase can be used:

It may be quicker for someone who hears well to reply, particularly when they know the answer and the question is unimportant, but this must be avoided at all cost.

His comments come in the team’s 1991 Yearbook, where he condemns the ‘win at all cost’ attitude of the 90s, and the danger those attitudes bring if taken into the mountains.

Tycoon Alan Sugar — whose Amstrad computer firm was a success of the booming 80s — slammed the Tories for wanting to slash inflation at all cost.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between a student and a university advisor[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

I would think too that the two virtually have the same meaning and are just different in version as you pointed out. I would also think the difference is only grammatical. “Costs” may more or less lay an emphasis on more than one kind of costs while “cost” on “costility” or the cost per se. Another interesting thing is, concerning the versions, many English dictionaries label it as “at all cost(s)” whereas many English idiom dictionaries only legitimate “at all costs”.

Just my two cents.

All the best,


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They mean the same thing. I hear “at all costs” more frequently than “at all cost”. Also used is “at any cost”.

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However, that does not mean they are really free from difference. If I may or have to borrow the linguistic expression for word-economy’s sake, “at all costs” [+plural, +Kind] vs. “at all cost” [-Plural, -Kind].

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You can get as technical as you like. The meaning is the same.

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“At all costs” seems a bit sybaritic to me. “At all cost” feels more aware of the notion of cost. I’m imagining here that the line is said in the typical action movie scene phrases, “we will this device back at all cost/costs,” “we will defend this land at all cost/costs” etc. “At all costs” seems redundant, and for one additional letter overindulgent, since the notion of cost isn’t necessarily a single commodity or currency, as seen in the phrase, “we knew not what it would cost.” Cost like sheep maintains both a singular and plural inside of itself as a word but cost singular being more literal and cost plural being more metaphorical makes it that much more important to recognize and keep the word’s plural where it exists since costs is also a plural but, for me, refers more to prices which cannot be made metaphorical. Cost singular to me means, “what is the cost of that price of bread” whereas cost in the plural can mean money, weapons, and people were paid as well at the same time the entirety of that cost at once, namely a whole civilization or some such. We paid all costs could never take on this metaphorical grandeur since it refers specifically to individual costs multiplied. To say “costs” is helpful in terms of delineating that we will pay in weapons, lives, happiness, money, etc. but doesn’t convey the notion that the cost is at one and the same time plural in reality and singular in ideation, which is far more powerful in a narrative sense. So since this phrase “at all cost/costs” is often used to show dramatically the lengths one will go to I could not accept “at all costs” as the phrase unless it was used in a mundane matter where the metaphorical implications were unimportant.


Hello Maximtucker! And welcome to our forum :grin: thank you very much for giving this interesting and very useful information. I think you’re a linguist.
May I ask you, where are you from?

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