[mur-chuh nt]


a person who buys and sells commodities for profit; dealer; trader.
a storekeeper; retailer: a local merchant who owns a store on Main Street.
Chiefly British. a wholesaler.


pertaining to or used for trade or commerce: a merchant ship.
pertaining to the merchant marine.
Steelmaking. (of bars and ingots) of standard shape or size.

Origin of merchant

1250–1300; Middle English marchant < Old French marcheant < Vulgar Latin *mercātant- (stem of *mercātāns), present participle of *mercātāre, frequentative of Latin mercārī to trade, derivative of merx goods
Related formsmer·chant·like, adjectiveout·mer·chant, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for merchants

Contemporary Examples of merchants

Historical Examples of merchants

  • They were of the "Effendi class," and might be merchants or professional persons.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Judges lie in their official garb, and merchants with the emblems of their trade.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • Likewise the shopkeepers and merchants and their assistants of all kinds were there.

    Albert Durer

    T. Sturge Moore

  • Their merchants were eagerly looking about for commercial opportunities.

    Introductory American History

    Henry Eldridge Bourne

  • Railroad discussions were confined to merchants and manufacturers.

    The Railroad Question

    William Larrabee

British Dictionary definitions for merchants



a person engaged in the purchase and sale of commodities for profit, esp on international markets; trader
mainly US and Canadian a person engaged in retail trade
(esp in historical contexts) any trader
derogatory a person dealing or involved in something undesirablea gossip merchant
  1. of the merchant navya merchant sailor
  2. of or concerned with tradea merchant ship


(tr) to conduct trade in; deal in
Derived Formsmerchant-like, adjective

Word Origin for merchant

C13: from Old French, probably from Vulgar Latin mercātāre (unattested), from Latin mercārī to trade, from merx goods, wares



Ismail (ˈɪzmeɪəl). 1936–2005, Indian film producer, noted for his collaboration with James Ivory on such films as Shakespeare Wallah (1965), The Europeans (1979), A Room with a View (1986), The Remains of the Day (1993), and The Golden Bowl (2000)
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 merchants



c.1200, from Anglo-French marchaunt "merchant, shopkeeper" (Old French marcheant, Modern French marchand), from Vulgar Latin *mercatantem (nominative *mercatans) "a buyer," present participle of *mercatare, frequentative of Latin mercari "to trade, traffic, deal in" (see market). Meaning "fellow, chap" is from 1540s; with a specific qualifier, and suggesting someone who deals in it (e.g. speed merchant "one who enjoys fast driving"), from 1914.



c.1400, from merchant (n.) and from Old French marcheant (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper