Sunk cost

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A sunk cost is an expenditure on a project which has already been made and cannot be reversed.

The term is most commonly used with regards to decision making on a project. In that context, the sunk costs are those already spent; the decision would be whether or not to continue to spend money on the project (in hopes that the project will earn at least what was spent, and hopefully much more), or terminate the project and chalk it up as a loss.