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A branch of accounting that observes and calculates the actual costs of a company's operations. Internal managers, rather than auditors, use cost accounting most of the time to identify aspects of their company where costs can be cut. For example, a manager may enlist a cost accountant to determine the most expensive aspects of his/her business that is, where the money goes. The accountant may make a detailed report so that the manager may make decisions based upon it. Because cost accounting is primarily internal, it need not conform to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. It is also called managerial or management accounting. See also: Assurance, Activity-based costing.
The field of accounting that measures, classifies, and records costs. A cost accountant, for example, might be required to establish a system for identifying and segmenting various production costs so as to assist a firm's management in making prudent operating decisions.