(formerly) a person who followed an army or maintained a store on an army post to sell provisions to the soldiers.

Origin of sutler

1580–90; < early Dutch soeteler (now zoetelaar), equivalent to soetel(en) to do dirty work, work poorly (akin to soot) + -er -er1
Related formssut·ler·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sutler

Historical Examples of sutler

  • We have a fighting strain in us ever since my kinsman followed Ireton's army as a sutler.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • I cannot see him, I'm sore feared he's hiding in the sutler's vans.

  • Our Sutler, although upon his first campaign, was no novice in the craft.

  • There I learned that the fort had been occupied by the Rebels in the night, while I was with the sutler.

    With Fire and Sword

    Samuel H. M. Byers

  • The sutler's tent was often a favorite lounging 287 place with the officers.

British Dictionary definitions for sutler



(formerly) a merchant who accompanied an army in order to sell provisions to the soldiers
Derived Formssutlership, noun

Word Origin for sutler

C16: from obsolete Dutch soeteler, from Middle Low German suteler, from Middle High German sudelen to do dirty work; related to soot, seethe
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 sutler

"person who follows an army to sell food to soldiers," 1580s, from Middle Dutch soeteler "small tradesman, sutler, camp cook" (Dutch zoetelaar), cognate with Middle Low German suteler, sudeler "person who performs dirty tasks," Middle High German sudelen "to cook badly," Middle Dutch soetelen "to cook badly." Probably also related to Dutch zieder, German sieden "to seethe" (see seethe).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper