Share this entry

colporteur Line breaks: col|por¦teur
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒlˌpɔːtə/

Definition of colporteur in English:


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.


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



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.

Definition of colporteur in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

More on colporteur

Nearby words

Translate colporteur

into Italian
Word of the day confidant
Pronunciation: ˈkɒnfɪdant
a person with whom one shares a secret...