over the counter

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not transacted through an organized securities exchange; directly to the buyer or from the seller: He sold his stocks over the counter.
Pharmacology. without a doctor's prescription but within the law.



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Origin of over the counter

First recorded in 1870–75

Definition for over the counter (2 of 2)

[ oh-ver-thuh-koun-ter ]
/ ˈoʊ vər ðəˈkaʊn tər /


unlisted on or not part of an organized securities exchange: over-the-counter stocks; the over-the-counter market.Abbreviation: OTC
Pharmacology. sold legally without a doctor's prescription: over-the-counter drugs.Abbreviation: OTC

Origin of over-the-counter

First recorded in 1920–25
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for over the counter

British Dictionary definitions for over the counter



  1. (of securities) not listed or quoted on a stock exchange
  2. (of a security market) dealing in such securities
  3. (of security transactions) conducted through a broker's office directly between purchaser and seller and not on a stock exchange
(of medicinal drugs) able to be sold without a prescriptionAbbreviation: OTC Compare ortho- (def. 5)
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

Medical definitions for over the counter

[ ōvər-ðə-kountər ]


That can be sold legally without a doctor's prescription.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.