Definition of colporteur in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɒlˌpɔːtə/


1A person who sells books, newspapers, and similar literature.
Example sentences
  • The prefect's efforts in this affair were focused on the persecution of colporteurs, key figures in the marketing and distribution of antigovernment pamphlets and newspapers.
1.1Someone employed by a religious society to distribute bibles and other religious tracts.
Example sentences
  • Throughout the 1890s, Korean colporteurs worked with missionaries to distribute texts throughout the country.
  • At one time it employed nearly 300 colporteurs, and virtually every parish in the country was visited by one of its men and his bag of books.
  • E. G. Wheeler and his wife were the first Baptist chapel car colporteurs.



Pronunciation: /ˈkɒlˌpɔːtɪdʒ/
Example sentences
  • They were in the tradition of colportage, hawked by street pedlars who entered bars and workshops, or sold by tobacconists, newsagents, or at railway kiosks.
  • Some of the Titanic instant books were produced by colportage publishing firms; others were published by firms specializing in children's books, travel narratives, political biographies, etc.
  • It was instrumental in the colportage movement in America, a system of traveling Christian literature salesmen whose trade it was to distribute a mushrooming inventory of Gospel literature - tracts, pamphlets, books and magazines - in the streets, into the homes and churches, and across America.


Late 18th century: French, from the verb colporter, probably an alteration of comporter, from Latin comportare 'carry with one'.

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