Definitions by contrast: Expensive vs. valuable

Definitions by contrast: Expensive vs. valuable

Sometimes even your faithful, Serious correspondent wants some time away from the dictionary. (Never fear, the official definitions will be back later.)

When the dictionary palls and I’d rather just use my notebook, I enjoy defining things through contrasts. It works well for pairs of words; I’ve been thinking most lately about the contrasts between “expensive” and “valuable.”

Contrasts pop up all the time. Umbrellas are expensive — until it starts to rain, and then they’re valuable.

New shoes are expensive — but when your old ones get old enough to hurt your feet, new shoes are valuable.

Having new cold-weather gear in time for the weather change is valuable. Not having it can be expensive — in the form of catching the germy sort of cold, or just feeling the cold air too much.

Chocolate is expensive — but when you’ve had a bad day, it’s valuable. (OK, when you’re celebrating a good day, too.)

I’m sure other posts will follow about other pairs of words.

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  • This post is a great perspective-shifter, thanks!

  • In reply to folkloric:

    You're welcome, as always. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I would think expensive and valuable are opposites to a degree. A Bugatti is more expensive than a Honda Fit, but if the job is to get somewhere, the Fit has more value. Probably needs less maintenance, too.

    In corporate speak, creating value is selling something real expensive so the corporation retains the value.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thank you for your perspective.

  • There are many ways of looking at these descriptives. Expensive usually applies to monetary value, so something can be valuable in this sense and therefore expensive to buy. But virtue on the other hand is priceless.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Hmmm. Virtue could be another word to define by contrast... watch this space!

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