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[kuhs-tuh-mer] /ˈkʌs tə mər/
a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron.
Informal. a person one has to deal with:
a tough customer; a cool customer.
Origin of customer
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; see custom, -er1; compare Middle English customer collector of customs < Anglo-French; Old French costumier, cognate with Medieval Latin custumārius; see customary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for customer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was a customer, because if he had not been Mr Verloc would have taken him inside.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Through the door left ajar she could see that the customer was not gone yet.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Bar could be light in hand, or heavy in hand, according to the customer he had to deal with.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • I ordered twenty-five modern dresses at Laferrire's, of whom I was then a customer.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • The owner of the shop appeared, and looked sharply at his customer.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
British Dictionary definitions for customer


a person who buys
(informal) a person with whom one has dealings: a cool customer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for customer

late 14c., "customs official;" later "buyer" (early 15c.), from Anglo-French custumer, from Medieval Latin custumarius, from Latin consuetudinarius (see custom (n.)). More generalized meaning "a person with whom one has dealings" emerged 1540s; that of "a person to deal with" (usually wth an adjective, tough, etc.) is by 1580s. In Shakespeare, the word also can mean "prostitute."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for customer



A person; cookie •The word has a tinge of disapproval: a tough customer/ She's a shrewd customer

[1580s+; perhaps an expansion of cuss]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with customer


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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