Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of high price or value; expensive: costly jewelry.
  • adj. Entailing loss or sacrifice: a costly war.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of high cost; expensive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of great cost; expensive; dear.
  • adj. Gorgeous; sumptuous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of great price; acquired, done, or practised at much cost, as of money, time, trouble, etc.; expensive; rich; occasioning great expense or expenditure: as, a costly habit; costly furniture; costly vices.
  • Lavish; extravagant.
  • Synonyms Precious, etc. See valuable.
  • In a costly manner; expensively; richly; gorgeously.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. entailing great loss or sacrifice
  • adj. having a high price

Etymologies

Composition: cost +‎ -ly (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • To have devised
    a Theory of Evolution, yet
    to imagine we remain somehow outside
    its sensible advance, has been our costly
    luxury up till now...

    - Peter Reading, The Con Men, from Nothing for Anyone, 1977

    June 26, 2008