[ ree-teyl for 1-4, 6; ri-teyl for 5 ]
See synonyms for retail on
  1. the sale of goods to ultimate consumers, usually in small quantities (opposed to wholesale).

  1. pertaining to, connected with, or engaged in sale at retail: the retail price.

  1. in a retail quantity or at a retail price.

verb (used with object)
  1. to sell at retail; sell directly to the consumer.

  2. to relate or repeat in detail to others: to retail scandal.

verb (used without object)
  1. to be sold at retail: It retails at 50 cents.

Origin of retail

First recorded in 1375–1425; (for the noun) late Middle English, from Anglo-French: “a cut,” derivative of retailler “to cut,” from re- re- + tailler “to cut” (see tail2); (for the verb) Middle English retailen, from Old French retailler

Other words from retail

  • re·tail·er, noun
  • non·re·tail, adjective
  • non·re·tail·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use retail in a sentence

  • Their teams and waggons haul it to the village, and in the dead of winter it is retailed to the cottagers at less than cost price.

    The Hills and the Vale | Richard Jefferies
  • However, the cook had given him something else besides an insult—he had retailed gossip which kept the young man's thoughts busy.

    Blow The Man Down | Holman Day
  • He took a mild interest in politics, and retailed gossip picked up at the Conservative Club.

    Hyacinth | George A. Birmingham

British Dictionary definitions for retail


/ (ˈriːteɪl) /

  1. the sale of goods individually or in small quantities to consumers: Compare wholesale (def. 1)

  1. of, relating to, or engaged in such selling: retail prices

  1. in small amounts or at a retail price

  1. to sell or be sold in small quantities to consumers

  2. (rɪˈteɪl) (tr) to relate (gossip, scandal, etc) in detail, esp persistently

Origin of retail

C14: from Old French retaillier to cut off, from re- + taillier to cut; see tailor

Derived forms of retail

  • retailer, noun

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

Cultural definitions for retail


A term describing businesses that sell goods directly to individuals. (Compare wholesale.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.