Historical cost is a term used instead of the term cost. Cost and historical cost usually mean the original cost at the time of a transaction. The term historical cost helps to distinguish an asset's original cost from its replacement cost, current cost, or inflation-adjusted cost. For example, land purchased in 1992 at cost of $80,000 and still owned by the buyer will be reported on the buyer's balance sheet at its cost or historical cost of $80,000 even though its current cost,  replacement cost, and inflation-adjusted cost is much higher today.

The cost principle or historical cost principle states that an asset should be reported at its cost (cash or cash equivalent amount) at the time of the exchange transaction and should include all costs necessary to get the asset in place and ready for use.