Origin of trade

1300–50; 1540–50 for def 6; Middle English: course, path, track < Middle Low German, Middle Dutch (Old Saxon trada), cognate with Old High German trata; akin to tread
Related formstrad·a·ble, trade·a·ble, adjectivetrade·less, adjectivein·ter·trade, noun, verb, in·ter·trad·ed, in·ter·trad·ing.non·trade, nounnon·trad·ing, adjectivepro·trade, adjectivere·trade, verb, re·trad·ed, re·trad·ing, nounun·der·trade, verb, un·der·trad·ed, un·der·trad·ing.un·trad·a·ble, adjectiveun·trade·a·ble, adjectiveun·trad·ed, adjectiveun·trad·ing, adjective

Synonyms for trade

Synonym study

1. Trade , commerce , traffic refer to the exchanging of commodities for other commodities or money. Trade is the general word: a brisk trade between the nations. Commerce applies to trade on a large scale and over an extensive area: international commerce. Traffic may refer to a particular kind of trade; but it usually suggests the travel, transportation, and activity associated with or incident to trade: the opium traffic; heavy traffic on the railroads. 6. See occupation. 14. Trade , bargain , barter , sell refer to exchange or transfer of ownership for some kind of material consideration. Trade conveys the general idea, but often means to exchange articles of more or less even value: to trade with Argentina. Bargain suggests a somewhat extended period of coming to terms: to bargain about the price of a horse. Barter applies especially to exchanging goods, wares, labor, etc., with no transfer of money for the transaction: to barter wheat for machinery. Sell implies transferring ownership, usually for a sum of money: to sell a car.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for trade-up



the act or an instance of buying and selling goods and services either on the domestic (wholesale and retail) markets or on the international (import, export, and entrepôt) marketsRelated adjective: mercantile
a personal occupation, esp a craft requiring skill
the people and practices of an industry, craft, or business
exchange of one thing for something else
the regular clientele of a firm or industry
amount of custom or commercial dealings; business
a specified market or businessthe tailoring trade
an occupation in commerce, as opposed to a profession
commercial customers, as opposed to the general publictrade only; trade advertising
homosexual slang a sexual partner or sexual partners collectively
archaic a custom or habit


(tr) to buy and sell (commercial merchandise)
to exchange (one thing) for another
(intr) to engage in trade
(intr) to deal or do business (with)we trade with them regularly


intended for or available only to people in industry or businesstrade prices
Derived Formstradable or tradeable, adjectivetradeless, adjective

Word Origin for trade

C14 (in the sense: track, hence, a regular business): related to Old Saxon trada, Old High German trata track; see tread
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 trade-up



late 14c., "path, track, course of action," introduced by the Hanse merchants, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German trade "track, course" (probably originally of a trading ship), cognate with Old English tredan (see tread). Sense of "one's habitual business" (1540s) developed from the notion of "way, course, manner of life" (mid-15c.); sense of "buying and selling" is first recorded 1550s. Trade wind (1640s) has nothing to do with commerce, but preserves the obsolete sense of "in a habitual or regular course." Trade union is attested from 1831.



1540s, "to tread a path," from trade (n.). Meaning "to occupy oneself (in something)" is recorded from c.1600. The U.S. sports team sense of "to exchange one player for another" is attested from 1899. Related: Traded; trading. To trade down is attested from 1942. Trade-in in reference to used cars is recorded from 1917. Trading post is recorded from 1796.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for trade-up


Business or commerce; economic activity.

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.

Idioms and Phrases with trade-up


In addition to the idioms beginning with trade

  • trade down
  • trade in
  • trade off
  • trade on
  • trade up

also see:

  • tricks of the trade
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.