Origin of wholesale

1375–1425; late Middle English, from the phrase by hole sale in gross; see whole, sale
Related formswhole·sal·er, noun

Synonyms for wholesale

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British Dictionary definitions for wholesale



the business of selling goods to retailers in larger quantities than they are sold to final consumers but in smaller quantities than they are purchased from manufacturersCompare retail (def. 1)
at wholesale
  1. in large quantities
  2. at wholesale prices


of, relating to, or engaged in such business
made, done, etc, on a large scale or without discrimination


on a large scale or without discrimination


to sell (goods) at wholesale
Derived Formswholesaler, 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

Word Origin and History for wholesale

early 15c., "in large quantities," from whole + sale; the general sense of "extensive" is attested from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wholesale in Culture


The sale of merchandise to retailers rather than directly to the public.

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.