[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.

Nearby words

  1. merchandise,
  2. merchandiser,
  3. merchandising,
  4. merchandize,
  5. merchandizing,
  6. merchant bank,
  7. merchant flag,
  8. merchant guild,
  9. merchant marine,
  10. merchant navy

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

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
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper