[ree-teyl for 1–4, 6; ri-teyl for 5]
  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

1375–1425; (noun) late Middle English < Anglo-French: a cutting, derivative of retailler to cut, equivalent to re- re- + tailler to cut (see tail2); (v.) Middle English retailen < Old French retailler
Related formsre·tail·er, nounnon·re·tail, adjectivenon·re·tail·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for retailers

Contemporary Examples of retailers

Historical Examples of retailers

  • The result is high margin to the retailers and no out-of-the-way income to any of them.

    Herbert Hoover

    Vernon Kellogg

  • These sell to wholesalers at the consuming end, who may sell to jobbers, who sell to retailers.

    Apple Growing

    M. C. Burritt

  • A jobber is one who buys from importers and manufacturers and sells to retailers.

  • Retailers of court gossip conjectured that his kindness was policy.

    Sir Walter Ralegh

    William Stebbing

  • So the governments took a chance with the honesty of the retailers.

    The Iron Ration

    George Abel Schreiner

British Dictionary definitions for retailers


  1. the sale of goods individually or in small quantities to consumersCompare wholesale (def. 1)
  1. of, relating to, or engaged in such sellingretail 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
Derived Formsretailer, noun

Word Origin for retail

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



mid-14c. "sell in small quantities or parcels," from Old French retaillier "cut back, cut off, pare, clip, reduce, circumcise," from re- "back" (see re-) + taillier "to cut, trim" (see tailor (n.)). Sometimes also "to deal out (information, etc.) in small quantities; hand down by report; recount, tell over again" (1590s). Related: Retailed; retailing.



early 15c., "sale of commodities in small quantities or parcels or at second hand" (opposed to wholesale), from Old French retail "piece cut off, shred, scrap, paring" (Modern French retaille), from retaillier (see retail (v.)). The notion of the English word is "a selling by the piece." This sense is not in French, however, and comes perhaps from cognate Italian ritaglio, which does have that sense. As an adjective, "of or pertaining to sale at retail," c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

retailers in Culture


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.