- a large retail store carrying a wide variety of merchandise and organized into various departments for sales and administrative purposes.
Origin of department store
An Americanism dating back to 1885–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for department store
Cassy's department-store investments reached her the next day.The Paliser case
I believe I do, answered the son of the department-store proprietor.The Motor Boys Over the Ocean
After which, who may now dare say that genius may not blossom in a department-store?
A department-store is, among other things, a great melting pot.
A woman left her baby in its carriage at the door of a department-store.Toaster's Handbook
Peggy Edmund and Harold W. Williams, compilers
- a large shop divided into departments selling a great many kinds of goods
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 department store
1878; a store that sells a variety of items, organized by department.
The "Department Store" is the outgrowth of the cheap counter business originated by Butler Brothers in Boston about ten years ago. The little "Five Cent Counter" then became a cornerstone from which the largest of all the world's branches of merchandising was to be reared. It was the "Cheap Counter" which proved to the progressive merchant his ability to sell all lines of wares under one roof. It was the Five Cent Counter "epidemic" of '77 and '78 which rushed like a mighty whirlwind from the Atlantic to the Pacific and all along its path transformed old time one line storekeepers into the wide-awake merchant princes of the present day. It was this same epidemic which made possible the world famed Department Stores of Houghton, of Boston; Macy, of New York; Wanamaker, of Philadelphia; and Lehman, of Chicago. ["American Storekeeper," 1885]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper