[mur-kuh n-teel, -tahyl, -til]


of or relating to merchants or trade; commercial.
engaged in trade or commerce: a mercantile nation.
Economics. of or relating to the mercantile system.

Origin of mercantile

1635–45; < French < Italian: pertaining to merchants, equivalent to mercant(e) merchant (< Latin mercant-, stem of mercāns buyer, noun use of present participle of mercārī to buy) + -ile -ile
Related formsnon·mer·can·tile, adjectivequa·si-mer·can·tile, adjectiveun·mer·can·tile, adjective

Synonym study

1. See commercial. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mercantile

Contemporary Examples of mercantile

Historical Examples of mercantile

  • Moreover, the use of it is gradually extending in the mercantile marine.

  • When Mr. Weddell commenced his mercantile life it was no child's play.

  • He dreamed in terms of battleships and of a mercantile marine.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • And I must laugh to see my neighbours making a to-do about a mercantile bargain.

  • My friend Tom has worked on a farm, while I have been engaged in mercantile pursuits.

    The Young Miner

    Horatio Alger, Jr.

British Dictionary definitions for mercantile



of, relating to, or characteristic of trade or traders; commercial
of or relating to mercantilism

Word Origin for mercantile

C17: from French, from Italian, from mercante merchant
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 mercantile

1640s, from French mercantile (17c.), from Italian mercantile, from Medieval Latin mercantile, from Latin mercantem (nominative mercans) "a merchant," also "trading," present participle of mercari "to trade," from merx (see market (n.)). Mercantile system first appears in Adam Smith (1776).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper