[ seylz-muhn ]
/ ˈseɪlz mən /
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See synonyms for: salesman / salesmen on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural sales·men.
a man who sells goods, services, etc.
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Origin of salesman

First recorded in 1515–25; sales + -man

usage note for salesman

See -man.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does salesman mean?

A salesman is a man whose job is to sell products or services.

The plural of salesman is salesmen. The equivalent term for a woman is saleswoman. Both terms are still commonly used, but salesperson and sales rep (or sales representative) are often used in their place.

A salesman is often said to “work in sales”—in which sales refers to the type of occupation or the division or department within a company.

A salesman can sell directly to customers or to other businesses or organizations. Sometimes, salesmen sell things in person, such as at a retail store or dealership. They also commonly sell things over the phone or by communicating with people online. In the past, it was common for some salesmen to travel door-to-door to make sales to people at home, leading to the term door-to-door salesman.

A salesman who has to travel as part of his job can be called a traveling salesman.

The word salesman is sometimes used in a somewhat figurative way to refer to someone who’s skilled at persuading people, especially in a business or professional setting, as if they are selling them a product. This skill or quality can be called salesmanship.

Example: The salesman told me that this was the best deal he could give me.

Where does salesman come from?

The first records of the word salesman come from the 1500s. It’s formed with the ending -man, which is used in many other terms that specify occupation, such as businessman and fisherman. This ending can be replaced with -woman or the gender-neutral -person, as in saleswoman and salesperson.

The job of a salesman is to sell, and to sell they have to convince the customer to buy. For this reason, salesmen have a reputation for sometimes being aggressive or putting pressure on the customer, especially in retail settings, like furniture or electronics stores. Also contributing to this reputation is the fact that some salesmen are at least partly paid on commission—a percentage of sales that goes into their pay. Of course, this reputation isn’t always warranted—a lot of salesmen genuinely want to help you find the right product.

Still, a lot of people try to avoid salesmen when shopping due to feeling pressured. Relatedly, the term used car salesman is sometimes used in a figurative way to refer to someone considered a smooth-talking swindler.

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What are some other forms related to salesman

  • salesmen (plural)

What are some synonyms for salesman?

What are some words that share a root or word element with salesman

What are some words that often get used in discussing salesman?

How is salesman used in real life?

Salesman is a neutral term, but salesmen may be viewed positively or negatively, based on a person’s experience with them.



Try using salesman!

Which of the following terms can be used as a synonym for salesman?

A. sales rep
B. sales representative
C. salesperson
D. all of the above

How to use salesman in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for salesman

/ (ˈseɪlzmən) /

noun plural -men
Also called: (fem) saleswoman, (fem) salesgirl, (fem) saleslady a person who sells merchandise or services either in a shop or by canvassing in a designated areaGender-neutral form: salesperson
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