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

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for customer

Contemporary Examples of customer

Historical Examples of customer

  • 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 dealingsa 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

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

Idioms and Phrases with customer


see ugly customer.

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